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Airborne Allergens: Small Assailants

Authors: Melissa Bright, BA

Abstract

Allergies are signals from the body’s immune system that a harmful substance is present. Airborne allergens, while not deadly like food and chemical allergies, can still cause a chain reaction of uncomfortable symptoms for allergic people. In most cases, the only form of control is avoidance, but airborne allergens make that very difficult.1 When identifying plants with high pollen output, watch for the “plain-looking” ones, such as trees, grasses, and weeds.1 As an alternative to producing fragrant, colorful flowers and fruits, many of these plants generate small, light, and dry pollen grains that travel easily in the wind.1 These grains travel so far and wide that some have been found 400 miles offshore and 2 miles above the earth’s surface.1 Mold spores, the other airborne allergens, only need moisture to grow. Knowing that these allergens are so pervasive, it is not surprising that most miss their target and end up on cars, windows, and, unfortunately, inside the human body.

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References

1. Airborne Allergens: Something in the Air. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Website. Available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/healthscience/healthtopics/allergicDiseases/PDF/airborne_allergens.pdf. Accessed July 1, 2008.
 
2. Allergy Alert Four Day Forecast. Available at: http://www.pollen.com/forecast.asp. Accessed July 7, 2008.
 
3. Weiss R. Rotting Wood, Rampant Mold Threaten Homes. The Washington Post 2005. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/17/AR2005091701585.html. Accessed July 3, 2008.
 
4. Ali Maeed Al-Shehri: Medical Treatment of Chronic Rhinitis. The Internet Journal of Otorhinolaryngology 2003;2. Available at: http://www.ispub.com/ostia/index.php?xmlFilePath=journals/ijorl/vol2n1/rhinitis.xml. Accessed July 3, 2008.
 
5. Rhinitis. The Centers for Chronic Nasal and Sinus Dysfunction Website. Available at: http://www.nasal.net/allergy/rhinitis.htm. Accessed July 7, 2008.
 
6. Murray Grossman. “Sinus Disease.” Available at: http://www.ent-consult.com/sinus_disease_pro.html. Accessed July 7, 2008.
 
7. Tips to Remember: Asthma and Allergy Medications. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/asthmaallergymedications.stm. Accessed July 3, 2008.