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9 common allergies explained

man cutting grass in cloud of yellow pollen

Photo: Todd Sumlin, The Charlotte Observer/AP

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Pollen

Pollen is composed of the microscopic cells of flowering plants, and it spreads through the air during the spring, summer and fall to fertilize plants and tree flowers. Pollen can be easily inhaled during these seasons, causing symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, runny nose and itchy throat. Pollen allergies can trigger or worsen asthma and lead to sinus or ear infections.

If you have pollen allergies, pay attention to what time of year your symptoms occur and try to lessen your exposure to the substance during that time. Keep your windows and doors closed as much as possible. If you have to be outdoors, wear sunglasses to minimize pollen in your eyes, and remove your clothing when you come indoors and take a shower. Don't garden, rake leaves or mow your lawn if possible, and when landscaping, choose trees that don't produce a lot of pollen such as crape myrtles, dogwoods and palms. If efforts to avoid pollen aren't effective, your doctor may suggest you take decongestants or antihistamines, use a nasal spray or receive allergy shots.