Why Seasonal Allergies Are Good for Your Health
To understand the benefits of allergies, you need to understand how your immune system functions. When your body is working properly, coming into contact with various germs and substances should prompt your system to launch an attack to keep it from getting you sick.
In people with allergies, the immune system response works so well that the body attacks both the harmful invaders and harmless particles such as ragweed, mold, and pollen. This attack causes your body to release histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Research on the Benefits of Allergies
While no one wants to experience allergies, researchers affiliated with Yale University believe that being prone to having reactions to seasonal allergens also means that your body is primed to do its job—to fight against environmental exposures such as parasites, harmful chemicals, animal venoms, and irritants that may be harmful or life threatening. These findings, published in Nature April 2012, conclude that having allergy symptoms can actually help you live a longer, healthier life.
Scientists also point out that there's a secondary benefit to allergies: They can remind you to limit your exposure to allergens. When your symptoms kick in, you're likely to go to great lengths to avoid triggers such as mold, fumes, and other environmental hazards.
What This Means For You
Even though your allergy symptoms may be protective, the benefits won't make allergies more bearable. The good news, however, is that you don't have to stay indoors for the rest of the season. There are some simple things you can do to help ease the discomfort while still maintaining the benefits of allergies:
- Pay attention to what triggers your symptoms and make changes to minimize your exposure. For instance, if you notice that the pollen in your yard in the afternoon seems to make you sneeze, plan outdoor activities for earlier in the day.
- Follow the mold and pollen counts in your area and save outdoor activities for times when the levels are low.
- Shower after spending time outside to remove any triggers on your skin and in your hair.
- Bathe your pet frequently since allergens can get trapped in his fur.
- Keep your windows closed and run your air conditioner when seasonal triggers are out in full force.
- Use allergy medications to help minimize your allergic response.
- Talk to your doctor about getting allergy shots if your efforts aren't enough.
Artis, David et al. "Immunology: Allergy Challenged." Nature 484 (26 April 2012): 458-459. Web. 11 May 2012.
Carroll, Linda. "Miserable spring allergies? Why that's a good sign." Health on Today. 25 April 2012. Web. 10 May 2012.
FoxNews.com. "Nuisance or needed? Why allergies are a good thing." 26 April 2012. Web. 10 May 2012.
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