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Five Things that Can Aggravate Your Suffering

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (March 1, 2012) - Fruits and veggies, air filters, spring breezes, procrastination and self-medication each can delay relief from a stuffy nose, sneezing, sniffling or other symptoms if you re one of the more than 35 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies.

People with spring allergies often don t realize how many things can aggravate their allergy symptoms so they just muddle along and hope for an early end to the season, said Myron Zitt, M.D., past president of the ACAAI. But there s no reason to suffer. A few simple adjustments in habits and treatment can make springtime much more enjoyable.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members alert people with spring allergies to be on the lookout for these five things that can aggravate suffering.

  1. Noshing on fruits and veggies Many people with seasonal allergies also suffer from pollen food allergy syndrome (also called oral allergy syndrome), a cross-reaction between the similar proteins in certain types of fruits, vegetables (and some nuts) and the allergy-causing pollen. One in five people with grass allergies and as many as 70 percent of people with birch tree allergies suffer from the condition, which can make your lips tingle and swell and your mouth itch. The trick is to determine which problematic produce is causing your symptoms and then avoid eating it, (although you might be able to eat it if it s peeled, cooked or canned). If you re allergic to birch or alder trees, you might have a reaction to celery, cherries or apples. If you have grass allergies, tomatoes, potatoes or peaches may bother you. Usually the reaction is simply annoying and doesn t last long. But up to 9 percent of people have reactions that affect a part of their body beyond their mouth and 1.7 percent can suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. If you ve had a systemic reaction, you should see an allergist and ask whether you should carry injectable epinephine. Visit to find an allergist near you.
  2. Using the wrong air filter Using an air filter to keep your home pollen-free is a good idea, but be sure it s the right kind. Studies show inexpensive central furnace/air conditioning filters and ionic electrostatic room cleaners aren t helpful and in fact the latter releases ions, which can be an irritant. Whole-house filtration systems do work, but change the filters regularly or you could be doing more harm than good.
  3. Opening your windows When your windows are open, the pollen can drift inside, settle into your carpet, furniture and car upholstery and continue to torture you. So keep your house and car windows shut during allergy season.
  4. Procrastinating You may think you can put off or even do without medication this spring, but the next thing you know you re stuffed up, sneezing and downright miserable. Instead, get the jump on allergies by taking your medication before the season gets under way.
  5. Self medicating Perhaps you re not sure exactly what s making you feel awful so you switch from one medication to the next hoping for relief. Your best bet is to see an allergist, who can determine just what s triggering your symptoms and suggest treatment. Visit to find an allergist near you. You might even benefit from allergy shots (immunotherapy), which can stop the suffering altogether.

Visit to learn more about spring allergies and to find an allergist near you who can ensure you get the best treatment and aren t aggravating your symptoms.


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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