If you suffer from allergies, you are not alone.  I recently heard a statistic from the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology that more than 54% of the U.S. population suffers from allergies.  Allergy symptoms occur as a result of coming in contact with normally harmless substances and many times go unrecognized and are mistaken for a cold or flu.  Common symptoms include sneezing, red, itchy, watery eyes, dry throat and stuffy nose.  Some allergies change or disappear over time, while seasonal attacks will return at the same time each year for only a few weeks or months.  

Here in Iowa many people suffer from seasonal allergies.  Living in the heart of an agricultural state chock full of things that are growing and pollenating, it's a fact of life here.  I live with a few sufferers and it can really put a damper on outdoor fun and activities.  We have found The Weather Channel website to be helpful to track pollen activity.  Here is the link if you are interested in checking it out.  Click here to go to The Weather Channel Iowa Pollen Activity by City.  This can be helpful as you plan outdoor activities. 

Risk Factors

Though allergies can affect anyone, individuals with the following characteristics are afflicted more often:

  • Under  40 years old
  • Have at least one parent with allergies
  • Suffer from allergic conditions such as asthma

Prevention and Treatment

Consider these recommendations to lessen allergy symptoms:

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is very high
  • Keep your home as clean and as dust-free as possible
  • If severe enough, you may want to consider purchasing a home air cleaner on your heating/cooling system
  • Put bedding such as pillows and duvets in allergen-proof cases
  • Use a vaccum cleaner that can trap allergens or one with a HEPA filter
  • Minimize spending time around pets
  • Shower and change clothing after you have spent time outdoors one a high pollen count day

Treatment for most allergies is available over-the-counter or by prescription.  Some people suffer from more severe symptoms and allergy shots may be necessary.  We recommend contacting your family doctor to determine which treatment is best for you.