With the University spring coming to life, many students have complained about their seasonal allergies acting up within the student body.
Seasonal allergies are common in the spring, as plants and trees produce pollen, a powdery substance produced by plants for reproductive purposes. This yellow substance coats cars, windows and any surface it comes in contact with, including you. It irritates the nostrils and causes allergy symptoms including but not limited to sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, runny noses and others.
Professor Mark Spiro from the Biology Department here at the University said that part of the reason why some individuals have severe allergies in the spring is due to their personal habits.
“If somebody’s personal microbiome is out of balance, this can lead to that individual becoming more susceptible to allergies,” Spiro said.
A microbiome “is the collection of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and their genes, that naturally live on our bodies and inside us,” according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Spiro said that if a person is frequently surrounded by irritants similar to pollen, such as dust or dirt, their immune system will “train itself to become more used to these irritants.”
Spiros’s argument is that if one is surrounded by more irritants and/or has a more active microbiome, they will be less vulnerable to seasonal allergies that many are experiencing. Professor Spiro made the following recommendations for individuals experiencing allergy discomfort, though he and the Bucknellian are not accredited doctors permitted to prescribe medication.
“A stressed-out immune system can be alleviated by eating organic, whole foods. Foods that have little to no preservatives or processed elements can relax one’s body, and thus their immune system,” Spiro said.
Additionally, over-the-counter medicines are available, such as Alegra, Claratin, Zyrtec, Flonase and others.
Theresa Dollar is a senior here at the University as well as a University Student Farm Leader. She oversees and guides volunteers and class trips to the University’s own five-acre farm, located adjacent to fraternity row. There she is constantly working with her hands, surrounded by plants, and remarked that the seasonal allergies are taking their toll on her.
“Spring allergies are definitely a thing not to take lightly, as they can cause all sorts of discomforts,” Dollar said. “Since I am constantly around plants, I take Zyrtec, an over-the-counter allergy relief medicine, so that my eyes are not itchy all the time.”
Allergies this spring season can be resolved, either by medicine, lifestyle changes or both.