Pollen Days Are Here Again

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Living out in the country is esthetically nice this time of the year, as everything is in bloom. However, in the last few years particularly I suffer the consequences with pollen and hay fever allergies. Athena and I went outside to play, which involved rolling around in the grass; once we came in I spent about 20 minutes sneezing, followed by the ingestion of allergy medicine which knocked me unconscious for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, which is not really an optimal time for a nappy-poo, if you ask me. I mean, I’m glad the plants are having sex and all, I just wish it didn’t trigger such an irritating histamine reaction in me. The good news, such as it is, is that we’re having a nice thunder storm at the moment, which will wash the pollen from the air for a couple of days.

Here’s what I want to know, which maybe one of you can answer: Do other animals get allergic reactions to pollen as well? Kodi and the cats don’t seem to be spending a lot of time sneezing, but on the other hand Ghlaghghee’s been tearing up more recently, and I can’t help but wonder if the pollen’s getting to her too. If so, poor kitty. I doubt they make feline antihistamines (actually, I don’t doubt it; I’m sure someone does. But I doubt I’m going be able to pop down to the little IGA market here in town and get it).

Yeah, that’s all I’ve got for you today. I’m still groggy from waking up at 7pm from my nap. My brain is so useless at the moment that I actually cleaned my office, because rooting out clutter was all my gray matter could handle at the time. Stupid allergies.

22 thoughts on “Pollen Days Are Here Again

  1. Yeah, I am living near Sacramento, CA– supposedly one of the worst places in the world for allergies. This past week I’ve been sneezing a lot. And waking up as if I hadn’t slept at all. Not fun. The good news is that when I’m on campus I can just hide in one of the underground lairs computer labs. The bad news is I have to leave them eventually…

  2. Our dog seems allergic to something. She sneezes a lot and has some other reactions. Over the summer we had to get her to the vet for some shots as her skin has reactions and she’ll walk around rubbing against everything to try and stop the itching.

  3. Yes, pets can have allergies. My dog gets allergies every spring and summer. Her eyes get red and she licks her paws incessantly. The vet gives her a shot, which usually takes care of it, but children’s Benadryl also does the trick.

  4. We have a hepafilter…for the cat. How someone who wears a fur suit year-round can have allergies is beyond me, but did I mention the hepafilter?

  5. My neighbor’s dog gets allergies every year around this time, so I guess it’s not all that unusual.

    You might want to consider getting an allergy test just to see what you’re allergic to where you live. Allergies can take a few years to manifest; I lived in San Jose for 9 years before mine showed up and when they hit, they hit hard. Whether you choose medication or shots is up to you and your doctor, but at least you’d know what you’re up against. The test isn’t too bad anymore. They used to do the stick test on your back; now it’s on your arm.

  6. The existence of allergies actually argues for evolution and against Intelligent Design, IMO. Why design such an abundantly evident side effect in? It makes no sense, and proponents of creationism are reduced to arguing that God made allergies that way so that he could test our faith. Or something like that.

    This is comforting, of course.

    What I really want to know is why allergies start showing up later in life. In particular, I want to know why I, who was blessedly allergy-free for more than 40 years, now sniffles and wheezes and rubs at his burning eyes for a week every spring when some thrice-damned grass or other engages in its annual orgy of copulation.

    And yes, pets suffer from them too. When I was kid, we had a cat who got weepy eyes every spring, and who would wander around wiping icky cat eye-goop on the furniture.

  7. I agree that it would be nice if the vegetable kingdom could manage to conduct its sex lives without disrupting mine.
    I’m told allergies can manifest at any age, and that what provokes an allergic reaction in a particular individual can change with time as well. I guess we are just lucky that way. I’ve also heard that allergic reactions involve a dysfunction of the immune system–particularly the part that’s supposed to deal with parastic infections–I believe this is called the hygiene hypothesis. Supporters point out that the incidence of severe allergies is much higher in the developed world, where people typically have fewer problems with parasitic infections.
    I’ve also heard that there’s often a higher incidence of people with severe allergies in areas near climatic border zones–apparently you have twice as many plants that do well there, making twice the opportunity for a reaction.

    I have had sneezy cats as well–including one who could produce an amazing amount of mucus for such a small creature. This can be treated. The vet will probably not laugh too loudly at the animal in question until after you’ve left.

  8. I’m originally from Atlanta, recently named ‘Springtime Allergy Capital of the United States’. Be thankful you don’t live there if you have allergies – the pollen count this time of year is often measured in the thousands. Last Tuesday the pollen count hit an incredible 5,262, which was still short of the record by 751.

    To put that into perspective, 60 is considered high and 120 is considered extremely high.

    When the pollen count gets into the thousands, the air starts to take on a greenish-yellow tint. You can wash your car and half an hour later you can’t even tell what color it’s supposed to be.

  9. The weirdest allergy I ever developed was to fish slime. I got it one summer from taking fish off the hook and having the dorsal fin “inject” the slime into my palm kinda like a tattoo.

    One good aspect of getting older is that I no longer react to mosquito bites, which is helpful in Minnesota. On the other hand does this mean my inmmune system is breaking down and will no longer protect me from strep and anthrax? Yikes!

  10. Greta gets pretty bad allergies down here — Charlotte is currently rated number three on the list of worst allergy cities. Flonase seems to take care of most of that for her, though lately she’s switched to Claritin to avoid the prescription annoyance. Might be a better option for you, since it doesn’t knock you out.

  11. Ooh! Something I know a bit about (I’m an ENT).

    John, chuck the over the counter allergy meds — most of them, anyway. The only decent OTC allergy medication which will not zombify you is Nasalcrom. The best antihistamine is a spray called Astelin. It’s great because it works and (since it’s a spray rather than a pill) it does not have any systemic side effects — sleepiness, in other words. I’d estimate about four out of five of my patients rave about it.

    Caveats: Nasalcrom has to be used frequently during your allergy season, sometimes five or six times in one day. Astelin need only be used twice a day, but many patients complain about the taste. (It doesn’t stop them from using it.)

    For many years, the only prescriptions I’ve written for the so-called nonsedating antihistamines (Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec) were for patients who were already on the drug and who wanted to stay on the drug. I write perhaps 3 or 4 such prescriptions each year. I try to avoid these, because the number one side effect of the nonsedating antihistamines is sedation.

    Nasal steroids (like Flonase) are another option, but they are also prescription drugs, like Astelin.

    Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

  12. I actually have to give my dog allergy shots once a month, his are so bad. On the more amusing side, when I got him tested to see what he’s allergic to, it said, “Dust, Mold, Dogwood, Cottonwood, Grass and (my favorite, since so many grow here in MN) plantains.”

  13. Doctor Doug,

    I’ve actually been using OTC Claritin-D (actually the generic knock-off) for about two years, and I’ve seen a dramatic drop in the number of head/chest colds as a result. The package says to use it for two weeks and then stop. I doubt if anyone is actually doing that; I find if I miss more than one day my allergies start kicking in again.

    Is there any reason to discontinue using it if you’re not experiencing noticeable side effects (sedation)?

  14. John,

    I am allergic to some cats. Which some that is seems to be entirely random. I currently am working part-time in home health with a person whose cats I’m desparately allergic too.

    The answer? Clariton. Every antihistimine on the planet makes me drowsy. But Clariton 24 hour doesn’t. The trick is to take it before exposure to the allergen, rather than after the sneezing starts. It is OTC and pricey, but worth it if you only take it on the days you know you will have heavy exposure.

    Just some unsolicited advice.

  15. Your dog isn’t allergic to pollen because she eats her own poo. fidelio already mentioned the hygiene hypothesis: Allergies are more common in developed nations, where people grow up in clean homes without regular infections with (among other things) fecal bacteria to prime their immune systems. Your dog, on the other hand, probably spent her young life licking butts. You got allergies; she didn’t. Everything’s a trade-off.

    Oh, and I like sudafed and allegra. And benadryl to sleep at night.

  16. Our dog gets an antihistimine tablet twice a day from March until September, after which time his allergies to whatever he’s allergic to subside. We use a drugstore generic version of a popular antihistimine on our vet’s advice.

  17. I think I’m having a reaction to the volume of dandelions in your yard, if it is indeed your yard in the picture. Dude, buy some weed killer!

  18. Please answer this question for me. I can’t sleep at night during this spring allergy season and wake up rubbing my eyes. What do you suggest I take for this and do you know what home remedy would be good for it. I really need some sleep right about now. My eyes feels as if there were sand in them. Please reply. Thank you.

  19. Nina, you said you give your dog antihistamine tablets that you’ve bought from the DrugStore. What brand are they? Are these non-sedating? How do you know the excipients are safe for a dog? I have been prescribed antihistalone for my dog but they are sooooooooooooo expensive. I’d like to see if something for humans from a DrugStore would be suitable for doggy too.

  20. I’ve had pollen allergies in the past. I recently bought a puppy. I didn’t have any reactions to him until I moved to a different city with a high pollen count. Is it possible I am reacting to the pollen on his fur? He rolls in the grass a lot. Or am I allergic to him? Is there a way to find out?

    This new apartment also has new carpet. My reactions were much worse before I vacuumed multiple times.

    Thanks!

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