• Max Dessner

An Anthology of Allergies: Pollen

Updated: Aug 3



One of my biggest battles in life hasn't been with emotional relationships, injuries, or sickness, it's been with pollen allergies. I've been fighting this form of sinus irritation since I was six years old, and while not as deadly as a bad food allergy, it has certainly become a problem in my life. I've tried just about every form of treatment available for this not-so-minor annoyance. Every type of pill, inhaler, or eyedrop meant to alleviate symptoms is something I've tested on myself at one point or another in this never-ending battle. To this very day a bottle of allergy pills and a rescue inhaler live in my shaving kit in case of another attack.

However, I am far from alone in feeling the effects of pollen in the air. While severity varies, pollen allergies are very common: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 million people in the United States suffer from allergic rhinitis–that's over 15% of the entire US population! Seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as “hay fever” or “pollen allergies” is a type of airborne allergy to a substance originally found in flowers. Once pollen comes into contact with people who are allergic to it, their body’s immune system overreacts to this new substance. This overreaction can cause irritation, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, and other cold-like symptoms. In cases like mine, someone might carry a rescue inhaler for spontaneous shortness of breath due to an allergy attack.

There are many medications on the market and in local pharmacies everywhere to help deal with symptoms of pollen allergies. These include pills, eyedrops, inhalers, nasal sprays, and in the most extreme cases, types of steroids to help the body combat pollen. Depending on the patient, some of these medications can actually help a great deal in fighting the irritation caused by the immune system overreacting to pollen entering the body. For example, in my experience, I tried many types of medications for my allergies over a period of about ten years. During that period of time, I ended up finding that a combination of specific types of eyedrops, pills, nasal spray and a rescue inhaler almost completely erased the effects of pollen on my system. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone's solution is the same, and mine came to be after years of visits to my allergist.

However, there is one thing that will not help anyone dealing with allergies: poor air quality. In recent years this has been a topic of conversation when relating to climate change. Additionally, decreased air quality in urban areas has been proven to help exacerbate symptoms of pollen allergies, according to the CDC. Bad air quality due to climate change can be responsible for longer and more severe allergy seasons. Moreover, increased pollen count can lead to more people feeling symptoms due to more pollen in the air. In short, global warming can lead to worse allergy seasons, meaning that, unfortunately, more people will begin to experience more symptoms during these periods of time if climate change continues along the trajectory that it is currently on.