News on Wellness

Attack of the Allergens!

Spring Allergies

Each Day, Pollens Invade Your Body And Put Your Immune System on The Defense. Here’s A Closer Look at What Happen

Are you plagued each spring with a runny nose and watery eyes? Do you know what the enemy is?

“Palynology” (pronounced pal-a-NOL-oh-gee) is the study of pollen and spores. Pollen is a fine dust generated by plants. It must get to the female part of the plant to make seeds.

Pollen is carried by the wind or insects.
Spring Allergies
Every kind of plant makes its own pollen during a specific time of year. For example, trees generally produce pollen in the spring, grass in the summer and weeds in the fall.

So what are allergies, and what happens when you have allergies?

The body has a special defense mechanism called the immune system. The immune system is designed to protect you from things in the environment.

Suppose you are allergic to oak pollen. The first time your body is exposed to it, nothing happens on the outside.

But your body makes special cells, called antibodies, that will remember oak pollen. (You have a separate antibody for each thing you are allergic to.) So the next time you run into oak pollen, your oak pollen antibodies are activated.

When antibodies are activated, they cause the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes itching, watering, swelling, and redness in your sinuses, throat, nose and/or eyes.

Although allergy symptoms are similar to those of a cold, a cold is caused by contagious germs — but allergies aren’t and therefore you can’t catch them from anyone. This can be confusing because people with allergies sometimes are said to suffer from “hay fever.”

If you check your temperature when your allergies are acting up, it will be normal. Fevers come from infections, not allergies. Did you understand all that?

Take this quiz to find out!

  1. The study of pollen and spores is known as palynology. ( ) T ( ) F
  2. There is only one kind of pollen. ( ) T ( ) F
  3. Allergies are the body’s reaction to something in the environment. ( ) T ( ) F
  4. If you are allergic to pollen, you’ll have a reaction the very first time you’re exposed to it. ( ) T ( ) F
  5. Symptoms of allergies can be red, watery eyes and a runny nose. ( ) T ( ) F
  6. Allergies are contagious. ( ) T ( ) F
  7. Allergies can cause fevers. ( ) T ( ) F

Answers below the article.

Maybe you’ve noticed on the news that the weatherman doesn’t just report the weather. He also tells about pollen levels in the air. So how do they know that the ragweed level is high or that the oak pollen rate is low?

There are several ways to measure the amount of pollen in the air. One method uses a pollen trap.

The trap has a slit opening in the front. Air is sucked through this slit at a specific, constant rate. Inside the trap is a drum (like a round oatmeal box) covered with sticky tape. The drum turns slowly, so only a little part of it is exposed to the trap’s opening at one time. Any pollen in the air that is drawn into the trap sticks to the tape.

Each day, the tape is pulled off the drum and cut into strips. Each strip represents two hours. The strips are examined under a microscope. Scientists identify the type and amount of pollen on each strip. They use this information to make the pollen report, which is a prediction (or educated guess) about how much pollen will be in the air during the next couple of days.

Answers: 1. True 2. False 3. True 4. False 5. True 6. False 7. False. How do they come up with the pollen report?

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