Some allergies appear in young adults
Every Spring I have to take allergy pills daily, until all the strong allergens are gone, usually by mid summer. This has been going on for so many years that I forgot how it was when I didn't have these allergies. But I definitely didn't have them when I was a child.
I remember smelling all the flowers and playing with them, making crowns or bracelets or "nails". I was a healthy kid, rarely even had a cold. I was out all summer long, playing with my friends, from dawn till dusk and even sometimes at night. Maybe that was the secret of my health, or was it the clear air? After becoming allergic, I strongly believe that!
I was an adult when I first realized about my allergic condition. It was my first and hopefully the last, asthma attack. I couldn't breathe well and could hardly walk, because I felt so weak. Does it ring a bell to you? When I first found out about the COVID-19 symptoms, I remembered my awful experience, which was yet so easy to solve with a pill and I didn't need a ventilator. I was hospitalized in an infectious disease hospital, one of those which are so full of people these days, most of them infected with COVID-19. So I've learned what 'quarantine' and 'virus' means the hard way, although it was about HIV or malaria back then.
Things that cause allergy attacks
I got so sick because I hadn't treated my allergies, which led to a blockage in my lungs. After starting the allergy treatment, I could finally breathe normally and all the other symptoms disappeared. But they can always appear again if I don't take the allergy pill regularly. I know that and I'm taking care of my health by taking those pills as the doctor prescribed.
All these years, I've studied myself and learned that I'm mostly allergic to pollen, fluff and hay, but I also sneeze at dust or perfume. Once the nostrils are inflamed, any breeze can make me sneeze. This is more annoying these days, when all the people are scared of COVID-19 and any sneeze or cough makes a general panic. It didn't happen to me however it happened to a friend of mine, also allergic and she said that all the people in the store ran away from her!
The allergic reaction is influenced by genetic predisposition or environmental exposure. I know that I have the genetics from my mom and I can't change it, but the environment is out there so I can't change it either. So what does a doctor say when you ask him about what should you do about your allergies? He simply gives you some allergy pills and says 'Stay inside!' or 'Stay away from the allergens'- same as with the COVID-19 pandemic! I had to accept that and started to protect myself as well as I could. Does that mean that I didn't go out anymore? Does that mean that I didn't garden anymore? No, no, no and no! As a matter of fact, I wasn't much of a gardener back then - when I first discovered my allergies, that is. But that didn't stop me from gardening, later on.
Gardening and dealing with allergies
So, how can I go out and garden and still breathe well? Am I not afraid of another asthma attack? Is the allergy pill so effective?
Well, those are a few questions which you might ask me, so I'll tell you a few things about how I am protecting myself when I am gardening outside, with all the allergens in the air.
The first thing I do is try to avoid going out when the pollen counts are high. I don't have that information as you have in the US, However I know that as long as the trees are blooming, I can't stay out too much in the morning, even if I take my allergy pill, because that's when the pollen counts are the highest.
Talking about the allergy pills, there is a fact that I would like to share with you. The first allergy pills I used to take made me sleepy, that's why I had to take them before going to bed. They weren't of much help, compared to modern allergy pills, so that I still had a sneezy and running nose, teary eyes and itchy throat, eyes and ears - I hated my life! I had to take eye drops, nose drops and ear drops, which stopped the itching. Every year a new allergy pill appeared on the market, each being more and more effective for my allergies, but not for all symptoms and not as effective if I stay out too much, in the middle of the worst times for the allergens.
Herbal remedies and avoiding peak pollen times help with allergies
For example, if I want to mow the lawn, I need to wear a mask, to protect my nose and throat from the allergens contained in the cut grass. Glasses are also needed, otherwise I get itchy eyes after finishing the work.
I also wear a mask outside when the poplars are making that "fluff", which is so hard to bear, even if you are not allergic. This is the same for all allergenic sources such as, jasmine, linden, acacia, lonicera or blooming grass. I am used to staying inside during these times to protect my health and I've had to live with it since I was a young adult.
I've tried some cures with a few medicinal plants over the years that were known to relieve allergic symptoms. These were black currant, wild pansies, lavender or yarrow, but they didn't help me much. In fact, they barely eased the symptoms.
The best treatment was with a black currant extract, which was very good and had the same effect as the allergy pill. Because it was too expensive, I had to return to my chemical allergy pills. However, that experience made me think that I could have the remedy in my garden, which is why I planted a black currant bush and now I have black currants every summer. When the bush is bigger and produces more fruit, I will be able to make my own black currant extract and give up the chemical allergy pills.
The specialists now talk about the pollution causing allergies to many healthy people. I actually know people who weren't allergic before and became allergic in the last couple of years. The same specialists are talking now about the source of allergens being the flowering grasses and no other. They say there is no such thing as the allergy provoked by the poplar's fluff or by pollen from any other plant. I hate to contradict a doctor, but I know what I feel when the poplar fluff is in the air - or when the acacia is blooming. Actually, I don't need to see it, because judging by my symptoms, I just know that a blooming acacia is near.
Enlist help from others
A few years ago, I took a chance and asked the City Hall for help regarding the poplars' fluff. They've listened and approved my idea of cutting back all the huge poplars, which were making too much fluff. As I suggested, they planted back other trees, more environmentally friendly, such as the London plane, 'Platanus acerifolia'.
I'm still enjoying my victory, which made me feel a tiny bit better during the allergy season, because I didn't have to fight the poplars' fluff anymore. Allergies are a serious condition and they can be deadly, if they are not treated well. I've learned to live with mine and that helped me during the outbreak too. Experiencing an asthma attack was awful, but that memory kept me inside during the outbreak, because I wouldn't want to go through it again. Breathing is what keeps us alive, so let's keep it safe and clean, so we can be healthy.