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- What are Regional Allergies?
- Common Allergens in the Southern U.S.
- Symptoms of Southern U.S. Regional Allergies
- Diagnosing Southern U.S. Regional Allergies
- Treatment for Southern U.S. Regional Allergies
What are Regional Allergies?
Regional allergies vary depending on the part of the country you live in. Different regions contain different plants and trees that pollinate at different times of the year. The more you know about allergens common to your area and when they are the most troublesome, the easier it is to prevent and treat the associated symptoms.
The Southern U.S. region includes many states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The temperate climate in this region lends itself to year-round allergies.
Common Allergens in the Southern U.S.
The south is known for its year-round warm climate, which unfortunately leads to year-round allergies. In addition to many pollen allergens, warm rainy springs can also lead to excessive mold growth.
Tree allergens common in the region include pecan, oak, cedar, birch and hickory. Grasses pollinate for much of the year throughout the region, with some of the most problematic being Bermuda, redtop, orchard, rye, salt grass, fescue and timothy. Weeds in the area include ragweed, nettle, plantain, lambsquarters and sagebrush.
Symptoms of Southern U.S. Regional Allergies
Southern U.S. regional allergies result in hay fever type symptoms like sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, congestion and sinus inflammation. Other symptoms can include headaches, allergic cough, irritability and asthma. This region has year-round allergens from trees, weeds, grasses and mold.
Diagnosing Southern U.S. Regional Allergies
Regional allergies, also called seasonal allergies or hay fever, are based on the time of year. In the Southern U.S. region, tree, weed and grass allergies are present from spring through fall. Diagnosis by an allergist usually involves a history of symptoms, timing and exposure. If a detailed history is not enough to make a conclusive determination, skin tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Skin tests involve placing small amounts of allergen extracts just beneath the skin's surface. When allergies are present, a raised bump or minor skin irritation will appear at the site within fifteen minutes. Once the allergens are determined, a personalized treatment and management plan can be established that may include avoiding triggers, the use of medications or immunotherapy depending on the severity of the allergies.
Help for Southern U.S. Regional Allergies
Severe regional allergies are often treated with immunotherapy, a series of allergy shots that build up tolerance to allergy triggers. After allergy testing is complete, a personalized serum is developed and shots are given at regular intervals, helping the body naturally build resistance over time.
For those with minor allergies, simple techniques like removing shoes and clothing immediately after being outdoors and showering right away can eliminate pollens and other toxins that attach to skin, hair and clothing. Those who live in the area can benefit from HEPA air filters and vacuums for removing pollens brought in from outside throughout the year. Antihistamine medications are effective for periodic allergy attacks, but not generally recommended for long-term allergy management.