Are Allergies Stopping You From Enjoying the Outdoors?

Web Producer: Brad Maglinger

After a very cold winter, so many of us can't wait to get outside. But if you have allergies, this is not the best place for you. GFI takes a pollen count every day and they're reporting the tree pollen level at 449, which is considered high. Being located in the Ohio River Valley makes us susceptible to allergens, so do a lot of other factors.

Business is good for Evansville allergist Dr. Frank Amodio now that it's estimated one-quarter to one-third of the population has allergies. A century ago it was only ten percent. Researchers can't agree on one explanation for the increase. Some say global warming and higher carbon dioxide levels in the air are threatening vegetation, so in an evolutionary attempt at self defense, they're creating more and more pollen. Others believe the modern diet is to blame for its lack of herbs and fish oils that are thought to act as natural antihistamines. Another theory is that we're too clean.

Dr. Amodio explains, "We're not letting our immune system busy itself fighting off foreign invaders like it's intended to, bacteria and other types of parasites. So, it's redirecting itself you might say, misdirecting itself and making antibodies to things in our environment that are normally innocuous."

Dr. Amodio isn't saying it's better to be dirty, but minor illnesses do help us build up our immune response. So does limiting the use of antibiotics. As for immediate relief of allergy symptoms, he says turn on the air conditioner and shut your windows to keep the allergens outside.

The same goes for your car too. Unless the windows are up, pollen and ragweed are getting in, but there is a way for allergy sufferers to enjoy this nice spring weather.

"I think you should go outside. I think you should enjoy the fresh air, but if you have your windows open, you're outside 24 hours a day. It's almost like camping out. The breezes are blowing all that pollen in all the time, whereas if your windows are closed and you get a little respite, meaning you might have ten or twelve hours when you're not outside, gives your body a chance to reorganize itself, recoup itself, generally you do a little better," says Dr. Amodio.

When you are outside, you can wear sunglasses and a hat to keep some of the pollen out of your eyes and hair. When you go back inside, change your clothes and try not rub your eyes, that only causes more swelling and redness.

The bad news is more people have allergies, but at least that means drug companies have a financial incentive to research new treatments and they have been. There are more allergy drugs out there than ever before.

For more information, go to the Web site of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.