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Seasonal Allergies

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Appendix F: Glossary

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis effects approximately 20-25% of the population. Symptom producing allergens may include pollen, dust mites, animal dander, feathers, fungus, and many others. For individuals who enjoy being in the outdoors, symptoms may be mildly debilitating, decrease the enjoyment of your outdoor experience. In total, approximately 35 million people in the United States alone are affected by seasonal allergies.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms may include the following: Frequent sneezing, itching and watery eyes, itching in the back of the throat, tearing, runny nose, coughing, congestion, sinus pressure, and headaches. Most individuals feel that these symptoms are more pronounced in the spring. However, they can also occur in the fall, specifically with ragweed. Dust mites, for example may affect an individual all year long.

So what are pollens? Pollens are small, egg-shaped cells from the flowering plants that are necessary for tree and weed fertilization. The average pollen particle is less than the width of a human hair. Wind currents can sweep these pollens many miles. The most common is ragweed, which, when disbursed by wind, can travel up to 500 miles. Ragweed is commonly found along roadsides and in fields. It is very common in the fall in the Northeast, South and Midwest.

So what are molds? Molds are a microscopic fungus. They are related to mushrooms. However they do not have stems. Their spores float in the air, very similar to pollens. Molds are common in all parts of the country. They are most common after the first thaw in the springtime, are commonly found in wet soil and rotting wood. Molds are very common in the house, attics, in basements and bathrooms.

Outdoor Allergy Guide

Thanks to Shearing Corporation for the following information. For more information, please visit www.clarinex.com or www.nasonex.com. Different allergens can be found in different parts of the United States at different times of the year.

Pacific coast: Ragweed, sagebrush, Russian thistle and a variety of grasses are common.

Mountain: Ragweed, tumbleweed and Russian thistle are seen.

Southwest: Ragweed and dock.

Plains: Ragweed and nettles.

South: Ragweed, nettles and grasses.

Great Lakes: Ragweed and nettles.

Northeast: Ragweed, pigweed and nettles.

Allergic Reaction

So how does an allergic reaction occur? IgE antibodies are contained in your nose. These antibodies recognize and react to the allergens or pollens when you come in contact with them. These antibodies on Mast cells and Basophils capture the pollen, and when they do this, they trigger several chemicals, the main chemical being histamine. When histamine comes in contact with nerve endings, it causes sneezing and itching, and when histamine comes in contact with small blood vessels, it causes redness.

Allergy Treatment

Because it is literally next to impossible to avoid these allergens, there are many good antihistamines found on the market that are very effective. Antihistamines act by occupying the histamine receptors on cells, and they block the binding on the histamine. For individuals who have chronic nasal congestion, these anti-histamines are not effective, and they do little for nasal congestion. For severe nasal congestion, it may be beneficial to use a decongestant along with the antihistamine.

The most common side effect of antihistamines is mild somnolence. The three most popular antihistamines currently are:

  1. Fexofenadine, which is Allegra, and comes in 60 mg. tablets twice a day and 180 mg. once a day.
  2. Desloratadine, which is Clarinex, 5 mg. tablets once a day.
  3. Cetirizine, which is Zyrtec, 5 and 10 mg. tablets once a day.

It is important to note that Survive Outdoors does not promote or receive any benefits from any drug companies. We have reviewed the literature from allergy and asthma research studies from 2002-2004, and reviewed all three of the above-mentioned medications. What we have found is that what appears to be the most effective over a 24-hour period is the Cetirizine or Zyrtec. Even though there is a greater sedation in terms of being somewhat drowsy while taking this medication, it appears to have the highest efficacy over 24 hours. Allegra, 180 mg. tablets, once daily, came in second. The Allegra 60 mg. tablet was clearly not as effective as the 10 mg. of Zyrtec once per day. What is also nice about Zyrtec is that a suspension is available, which is great for children, the minimum age being 2 years old. Clarinex matched up fairly well, and had less sedating properties than Zyrtec.

Allergic Rhinitis

Glucocorticoids is the gold standard for allergic rhinitis. There are numerous nasal inhalers that have been very effective, and they have increased their safety profiles and have done quite well. There are a variety of different brand names. A few of these include Beconase, Vancenase, Rhinocort, Nasonex and Flonase. In reviewing the studies, these are all very similar. Some have a fragrance associated with them, which is somewhat distasteful, according to some patients. However they all work very well. There have been concerns in some studies when using inhaled nasal steroids in children that there could be some bone growth suppression. However this has not been confirmed, and the clinical significance of this has yet to be substantiated.

In closing, if you are an individual with a past history of allergies and plan on spending a lot of time in the outdoors, it is highly recommended that you start on some antihistamines, taking them daily, before going out in the outdoors on extended trips. They definitely will make you feel more comfortable. Hunters may especially benefit from this medication as they specifically are trying to be quiet. One does not want to be sneezing and coughing while sitting in a deer stand! Antihistamines will definitely make you more comfortable and suppress your symptoms, enabling you to be quieter, allowing for greater success while you hunt.



1. Allergies and You, Fall, 2004, Shearing Corp., 2003.
2. Paul S. Auerbach, Wilderness Medicine
3. Randomized Double Blind Comparison of Cetirizine and Fexofenadine after Pollen Change, Allergy and Asthma, Jan.-Feb., 2004, Vol. 25, #1.

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