How to Survive Allergy Season

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Playing golf and sneezing, not the best combination! Airborne allergies are not easy to avoid but playing smart and taking the right medications can help relieve your symptoms.

 

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system treats an allergen as a dangerous invader. When the body encounters the allergen, the immune system produces large amounts of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The next time the body makes contact with that allergen, IgE attaches itself to tissue and blood cells, which release chemicals such as histamine. These cause inflammation, which results in the all-too-familiar symptoms of seasonal allergies.The most common allergy can be to ragweed.

 

Luckily, the arsenal of available allergy medications is growing fast. Nasal steroids such as fluticasone propianate (Flonase) and antihistamines like Allegra and Claritin now have fewer side effects. Eye drop Zaditor is said to offer 12-hour relief from itching, and there’s also Omnaris, a corticosteroid nasal spray that suppresses the immune response. If all else fails, consider allergy shots, which decrease your body’s sensitivity to a specific allergen.

 

As many have already discovered, susceptibility to pollen may depend on where you play. Pollination starts earlier the farther south you go; trees kick off the allergy season, followed by grasses and weeds. (Those three are the allergens that afflict golfers most.) A quick tip to keep in mind is the time of day you play for example, grass pollen is highest in the afternoon; ­pollen-counting websites such as ­pollen.com can help you adjust your tee time accordingly. And take medications an hour or two before the round.

COMMON POLLEN PRODUCERS:

March–June TREES: Oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper, olive, hickory, pecan, sycamore and walnut.

April–September GRASSES: Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky bluegrass, Timothy, redtop, orchard and sweet vernal.

August–October WEEDS: Ragweed, sagebrush, curly dock, pigweed, plantain, sheep sorrel and lamb’s-quarters.

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