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In the case of allergies

Dominic Duarte

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Seasonal allergies are a yearly occurrence for some, and an everyday battle for others. With the weather slowly changing to warmer temperatures, some students at COS may be susceptible to allergic triggers.

Common causes that lead to inflammation are plant pollen, animal dander, and certain foods.

An allergy is a condition that is caused when the body’s immune system reacts to a foreign substance entering body. For certain individuals though, a reaction to such triggers can be greater and more severe than others.

“Yes, some people have greater sensitivity. . . The only way to know is if you have the symptoms,” said Cynthia Norvall, a nurse in Student Health Services.

As a way to determine what is in bloom for the season, Norvall recommends the news, as they update their lists regularly. The spores that a flower releases sends a broad distribution into the air. Then, the person who is allergenic will breathe them in, causing a trigger. The immune system views the foreign substance as an invader, releasing what is called histamines into the body. Histamines are anti-inflammatory cells that lead to a person having the regular symptoms of congestion, a runny nose, or runny eyes. Avoiding such triggers and taking medication can reduce symptoms. Norvall recommends Claritin as a good histamine blocker and symptom reliever.

For certain individuals though, having asthma can cause allergic reactions to be much more severe than the normal case of a runny nose.

“People that have asthma, their lungs are more susceptible to allergies. Triggering agents trigger asthma, and we don’t know what they are often. Which is why asthma is very problematic,” Norvall said.

Asthma is a respiratory condition where the bronchi lungs spasm, resulting in difficulty breathing. Knowing just what the triggers are can be problematic, as anything from cleaning supplies to air substances can be a trigger. The human body has two different kinds of airways called the alveoli and bronchial. The alveoli have small airways, in which asthma medication works quickly. Bronchial airways, however, have greater tissue mass, meaning medicine can take longer to work. Asthma attacks are caused when, due to swelling of the throat, air no longer reaches the lungs. Without the aid of an inhaler, an operation through the throat may have to be done to open the airways.

For students with asthma that play sports, Norvall stresses the importance of always having an inhaler nearby.

“It can be a real problem, because they are outside more than another individual would be,” Norvall said.

Norvall urges everyone with asthma or allergies to listen for changes in air quality before going outdoors. Before working at COS as a nurse, Norvall worked in the emergency department at Adventist Health in Handford. When reports came in about decreases in air quality, they would anticipate asthma patients and anyone who had sensitive lungs. It is a big issue Norvall sees in the valley, having the disadvantage of winds not clearing the air as they do in areas along the coast.

Norvall recommends students be up to date on conditions, as well as have a solid understanding of their allergens. A proper diagnosis can help for people who are unsure whether they have allergies or not.

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In the case of allergies