Ahh, springtime. With the new season comes so many beautiful sights with plants growing and flowers blooming. The only downside? Pollen, of course.
Allergy sufferers know the turmoil of the spring season, but honestly, even if you don’t suffer from allergies, the pollen is something you can’t ignore. It’s on every surface and is constantly accumulating. So, what gives? Why does pollen irritate us so much this time of year?
When plants begin to bloom, their pollen goes airborne. It gets carried by the wind to extreme lengths because of the tiny size of the particles. When pollen counts are high, a person can easily inhale 50 pollen grains in a single breath… That’s pretty unsettling, don’t you think?
As these tiny particles enter our eyes, nose, and mouth, our immune systems mistake them for harmful intruders such as a virus or bacteria. To expel these particles, our bodies launch a process that results in the common symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes.
The process isn’t actually all that complicated. Antibodies first attach themselves to our mast cells, which in turn pump out histamine, a protein in our bodies. The histamine kicks off a chain reaction and ends up widening the small blood vessels close to the skin, which causes inflammation. This inflammation is the swelling and runny nose we feel as our bodies attempt to flush out the foreign particle.
Next comes the gross part. Your body generates mucus to try and trap the invader and the sneeze tries to get rid of it. Sneezing may be the most visible symptom of pollen irritation, and it’s definitely the most common. In a single day, allergy suffering Americans can sneeze out a combined total of 1,400 cubic feet of fluid… That’s about the same volume as a 26 foot box truck!
There you have it, everything there is to know about seasonal allergies and the science behind them. Do you get bad allergies during the spring season? Let us know in the comments below.