How much do you REALLY know about allergies?

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Have you noticed, every spring and summer, the topic of allergies seems to be on everyone’s lips. Everyone, including me, has something to say about managing spring allergies, or making it through the summer allergy season. Yet fall and winter allergies are just as real, and just as miserable! Only it seems like no one is talking about it. People seem to think that allergies are a two season issue, at most, and if you can just get through the warmer months, everything will be fine.

That’s just not true. Mold spores, cedar pollen, and other allergens can cause allergies in winter and fall, too. It makes you wonder what else you think you know about allergies might not be as accurate as you’ve been led to believe.

Take this quick allergy quiz and find out if you really know what you think you know…

1. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you might want to avoid:
A. Bananas
B. Zucchini
C. Sunflower seeds
D. All of the above
E. None of the above

Answer: D, all of the above. The proteins in these foods are similar enough to the proteins in ragweed that the body may respond to them the same way. People with ragweed allergies often end up with swelling, itching, and hives around the lips and mouth when they eat these foods.

2. Which of the following does NOT help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms?
A. Changing clothes when you come inside
B. Taking a shower before bed
C. Using sunscreen whenever you go outside
D. Wearing a hat and sunglasses when you’re out and about

Answer: C, using sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks the sun, but not allergies, whereas changing clothes when you first come inside can help ensure any allergens that may be on your clothes don’t get spread around your house. For best results, put clothes directly into the washing machine. Taking a shower before bed helps keep lingering allergens off your sheets and pillows, where they can get into your eyes, nose, and throat. Finally, wearing a hat and sunglasses can help prevent allergens from blowing into your face.

3. How can weather affect allergy symptoms?
A. Symptoms are worse when it’s hot, dry, and windy
B. Symptoms are better when it’s rainy
C. Weather has no effect
D. Both A and B

Answer: D, both A and B. Hot, dry, windy weather creates the perfect condition for pollen and other allergens to be blown around, increasing the pollen count. Rainy weather can help rinse the pollen away, so that you’re not breathing as much of it.

4. Using certain allergy nasal sprays can make your congestion worse, not better.
A. True
B. False

Answer: A, true. Allergies can last a long time. Using certain nasal sprays longer than about three days can cause a backlash and create a dependence on the medicine. When you try to stop using the spray, your nasal passages end up swelling even more than they were originally.

5. Pollen counts are highest:
A. In the mornings
B. In the afternoons
C. In the evenings

Answer: A, in the mornings. While it might seem like pollen counts would increase as the day progressed, they really peak somewhere between 5:00 and 10:00 AM. Whenever possible, plan outdoor activities later in the day, and you’ll minimize your exposure at least a little.

6. Which symptom indicates allergies and NOT a cold?
A. Stuffy nose
B. Itchy eyes
C. Runny nose
D. Fatigue

Answer: B, itchy eyes. While a stuffy, runny nose and even fatigue could overlap between colds and allergies, the itchy eyes are the give-away here. Itching is going to be an allergic reaction almost every time.

Having accurate information may not cure your allergies—but it will help you feel better by enabling you to make smarter, more allergy-friendly decisions!