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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Season of sniffles

Leaving home can induce many changes in the life of a college student. Beside the expected variation of work-load, sleeping habits and friendship circles, the health of a student can undergo a transformation as he or she is introduced to a new environment.
Seasonal and environmental allergies are a health complaint new students often find daunting.
Allergies are caused by an exaggerated immune response to a particular substance, called an allergen. Body tissues release histamine in response to the foreign substance. This leads to inflammation of the mucus membrane and an increased amount of fluid rising to the surface. Affected people may complain of congestion or difficulty breathing.
Types and physiological responses to allergies differ per individual. Triggers may include certain food, medications, pet dander, plant pollen and other environmental factors. Changing locales corresponds to a change in environment, and therefore may be accompanied by new or increased allergy symptoms.
“Allergies are better here for me,” said senior environmental design major Jacob Spence. “The fresh air here is a good change from the chemical plant landscape of southeast Houston.”
Laura Davis, sophomore history major, moved from Giddings, Texas, to Katy, Texas, and has noticed differing degrees of allergy suffering in the three locales.
“I think that it’s better in College Station than it was in Giddings because we lived in the country and there were a lot of cedar trees, and I’m really allergic to cedar pollen,” Davis said. “It’s worse here than Katy, though. So, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum.”
Dr. Martha Dannenbaum, director of Student Health Services, said College Station has factors that may contribute to the allergy suffering of students.
“One of the things about Texas is that there is always something that is blooming,” Dannenbaum said. “We don’t get the heavy freezes like they do in the North. Not to mention there is a lot of wind, which is going to stir up a lot of dust and pollen and things like that as well.”
Because of the warm and humid weather of College Station, students may experience seasonal allergies throughout the year.
“Some people have very significant spring allergies, particularly when everything is starting to bloom. That’s probably the main time when it occurs,” said Dannebaum. “There are some, however, that have significant fall allergies relating to decomposing leaves and the changing plants and grasses during that time of year.”
Dannenbaum said when students notice the effects of seasonal allergies, they should head to the local grocery store for over-the-counter medicine. There are many options available that cater to a variety of symptom needs.
“Some of the medications are a response to reduce the release of the histamine,” Dannenbaum said. “Some medications are decongestants; they reduce the thickness of the tissues and the swelling. Sometimes they work by restricting the blood vessel in the area, which reduces the swelling so the air can go down better.”
If allergy symptoms persist after two weeks of trying a medication, Dannenbaum advised visiting a doctor. Students should also seek medical attention if their symptoms progress to those associated with a sinus infection. Symptoms include considerable pain in the sinus region of the face, fever or discolored drainage.
Under certain circumstances, doctors may also prescribe allergy shots, which are shots of low doses of an allergen given to an individual every one to two weeks. The low dosage is designed to create allergy desensitization, reducing the body’s allergic response when it encounters the allergen.
To prevent allergy occurrence or response, Dannenbaum suggested taking care of oneself. Reducing stress, eating right and getting enough sleep, she said, will improve the immune system.
Although there are multiple ways with which to deal with seasonal and environmental allergies, the physiological cause of the event cannot be completely alleviated.
“One thing I think everyone should understand is that you don’t get cured from allergies,” Dannenbaum said. “The medications are designed to control the symptoms so that they are the least bothersome. If you have allergies from substances in the air, they’re not really going to go away until the substance goes away.”

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