Campus Life, Lifestyle

Springtime allergies, why can’t you leave me alone?

After an endless period of black ice, slippery streets, stale snow and biting winds, the sky blooms from its long winter hibernation into a sunny, breezy spring. Frolicking animals, chirping birds and calming mist on shimmering spring days are long-awaited every year.

Except for the poor part of the population who suffer from seasonal allergies.

person sneezes into a tissue
While people who have seasonal allergies may not be able to fully celebrate spring outdoors, there are treatments available for managing symptoms. COURTESY OF SWEETLOUISE VIA PIXABAY

Seasonal allergy symptoms — sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes — usually occur in the springtime when the immune system is triggered by allergens such as pollen and molds.

Previous spring seasons were bearable for me, especially since I was able to find solace in air-conditioned buildings. I’d take a Zyrtec before bed when I felt the urge to sneeze, and most of my allergy attacks would be suppressed.

But my experience with seasonal allergies has only worsened. I remember times during school exams when my nostrils would feel the unbridled urge to just leak, with my throat so scratchy, my nose so irritated and my eyes so watery.

Soon, the Zyrtec hit its carrying capacity of efficacy and fell short of curing my symptoms. Mornings would consist of me shoving wads of tissue paper up both nostrils. Eating was a potential cannonball of projectile food, and drinking water would sometimes trigger itchiness in my esophagus.

I never thought I would be afflicted with this “harmless” condition. I thought I would have lucked out from the seasonal allergy gene pool, although I should have predicted this — both my father and brother have horrific seasonal allergies.

To make matters worse, my seasonal allergies were usually accompanied by nosebleeds and occasionally laryngitis or bronchitis. My pitiful immune system was overloaded with the outside particles of this disease-ridden, pollen-infested earth. Why did I ever think spring was a beautiful season?

As others were imbibing the delicious sunlight, burgeoning flowers and trees and soft grass, I would be reluctantly perched on the nearest bench, gazing at the pollen collecting on car windshields.

Because of my year-long quarantine thanks to COVID-19, I evaded two spring seasons outdoors. I relaxed indoors almost every day with no qualms. There was nothing I was missing out on other than an atrocious sneezing session.

However, near the end of 2020, my seasonal allergies flared back up, alive and well — the opposite of how I was feeling. One day, I ran downstairs to the sink with a raging nosebleed that took five minutes to clot. My mom was immediately on the phone with my family doctor.

I honestly don’t see the big deal. I’ve had to manage these pesky symptoms most of my life. But apparently, it wasn’t normal.

My doctor scheduled an appointment for me to see a legitimate allergy doctor, one who would prick my skin with dozens of needles to assess my reactions to common allergens.

I loved being in that testing room — it was a satisfying process, and I got to see my doctor’s Facebook page, full of fall cabin pictures, as the allergens began festering in my epidermis.

Fortunately for me, I was blessed with the most desirable set of seasonal allergies known to humankind. Not only was I extremely sensitive to outdoor allergens including most trees, grasses and weeds, but I was allergic to indoor mold and, surprisingly, many animals. Did you know you could be allergic to cockroaches? I know I am now.

Well, here’s the verdict after testing: I now have to take expensive nose drops or receive weekly immunotherapy injections. As someone who has only gone to the hospital for a rare surgery, this diagnosis was like being planted in the middle of concrete.

I guess this is where my journey with springtime allergies ends. As I begin my treatment, it will take three years for my allergies to be completely eliminated — coincidentally, lasting my entire college career. Combined with reducing my exposure to allergens, as recommended by our lovely friend, Mayo Clinic, my immune system should be squeaky clean in a couple of years.

To spring: I may have been too weak to approach you myself. However, I am preparing, upgrading and armoring up to stand before you. I will soon be injected with enough allergens to become Mother Nature, and I will make you bow at my feet.

I say this with nasal spray in one hand and my mask in the other. For now, I will just stay indoors.

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