Gone with the wind

5/22/2017  By Thirty Percenters

May 22, 2017


May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.


Clearly, some of us are okay with pollen. (Photo by Lennart Tange.)

The 2nd law of thermodynamics. Entropy. Irreversible process.

In some ways, we improve with age. In others, not so much.

It's spring - known to pharmaceutical marketers as "allergy season." And for good reason. Everywhere you look, beautiful blooming trees release pollen into the air. If you want to impress someone, call it "seasonal allergic rhinitis." If you want a shortcut, it's "hay fever." Whatever you call it, for many sufferers it's more than a nuisance - and with reactions that make it difficult to think and sometimes tough to breathe, it can take people off their game entirely.

With summer weather already beginning to tease us in the Kittitas Valley, spring will pass shortly. But allergies often remain until the cold of winter kills whatever pesky irritants have taken up residence in our sinuses. Until then, we keep the ENT doctors in business. It's enough to make this blogger root for an early winter! (Just kidding. Well, sort of.)

We moved here because of the wind.
- Rosemary

Human existence has often been compared with the seasons. Allergies used to more commonly be associated with the season of childhood. "He's allergic to peanuts," mothers would caution teachers at the start of a new school year. But no one warned us of adult-onset allergies. Drat that 2nd law of thermodynamics!

Sometimes problems arise or are complicated by our own poor choices. My friend Rosemary, an avid Mariners fan and former heavy smoker suffering with extreme COPD, was the most sensitive person to air quality I'd ever met. She and her husband Harold lived in many places before making Ellensburg their home. "We moved here because of the wind," she'd say. "It cleans those pollutants right out of the air, helps me breathe again." I think of Rosemary's words every time I'm tempted to complain about our perpetually windy weather - to me, it's a nuisance. To her, it was life-giving.

Even with weather, we need perspective.

Not all environmental allergies are 'natural.' Along with various pollutants like wood smoke, sensitivities to fragrances - or more likely to chemicals - follow us into the community, and into the workplace. Many of you have been affected, whether a colleague's cologne gave you a migraine, or your officemate sheepishly asked you to stop wearing your favorite lotion to work, it's a conversation happening in offices everywhere.

So, what to do about airborne allergies? Holding your breath isn't much of a solution, and unless you're incredibly lucky, odds are you'll go through the spectrum of over-the-counter medications without finding much that helps you long-term. Like so many other health conditions, you do what you can. Monitor your symptoms. Keep an allergy diary if you need help identifying your symptoms' triggers. And by all means, talk to your provider, if for no other reason than to get their experienced (dare I say seasoned?) perspective. Who knows? You might find relief by a means you'd never expected.

Just ask Rosemary.

Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Thirty Percenters does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare provider.