Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Allergy update and Q+A

Ok everyone, I am back to posting.  As a summary:  This spring my allergies didn't start to get worse until about a week into March, usually I feel them start to get worse in late Feb.  They have gotten pretty bad now as there has been lots of tree pollen around since then.

Now I have some questions to catch up on.

Q: You're talking about two kinds of congestion: nasal and sinus congestion. Which of them annoys you more, and why? And are they dependent on each other in a way that when one of them is bad, the other one is bad too?
A: They both annoy me in different ways.  I'd say the nasal congestion mainly because it is worse more often.  The sinus congestion can be worse though cause when it is bad it can be painful.  They are kind of dependent in that if my nasal congestion is bad, chances are my sinus congestion will get bad too.  I can have nasal congestion without much sinus congestion, but I never have a lot of sinus congestion without a lot of nasal congestion.

Q: How exactly can you tell from your symptoms which allergen(s) you're exposed to? Does it feel different to be exposed to dust / animal dander / pollen / etc.?
A: I often can't, but there are a few hints.  When its dust, my nose and throat tends to feel more scratchy than with other things.  Pollen I can mainly tell by the pollen count.  I am not sure, but I think pollen might make me more snotty than other things too.  For animal dander the need to sneeze between sneezes is more intense, but that can also happen when my allergies are really bad in general.  When its from scents, the sneezes take a little longer to come, and the congestion feels a bit more throbby.  For all the other stuff its too hard to tell.

Q: In an older post you wrote that you almost always have a need to sneeze, in shape of a tingling or tickle in your nose. I imagine that being very annoying, as your nose seemingly hardly gets some real relief – either you're actually sneezing, or you feel like needing to sneeze. How do you feel about that? Is it possible to get used to that?
A: It feels pretty annoying, lol.  I never seem to get totally used to it.  How much it bothers me can come and go, like sometimes I will notice it more than other times.  Sometimes I can pretty much ignore it and sometimes its so distracting that I can't focus.  I am not really sure what influences that though, other than how bad my allergies are.

Q: You've been asked about your worst allergy day ever. I'd like to ask for the opposite: Do you remember a day during the last years when the level of your allergies was extremely low? If yes, how did you feel that day, which symptoms did bother you to which degree?
A: It happens usually in the winter.  Of course t me a very low allergy day is probably still pretty intense for many people.  On my best days, my eyes don't bother me at all, there isn't any itchiness or tingling or anything.  There is sneezing, but less than usual and shorter fits. No sinus congestion, my nasal congestion is there but low enough that I can sniffle/breathe through my nose a bit, and my nose is a little runny.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you, allergy-wise? Like how often do attacks occur- can you explain a typical day for you and when you are affected? How does your partner help or comfort you during those times, as well? 
A: On a typical day, I get sneezing fits at least a few times an hour, sometimes more.  I'm too congested to blow my nose so I am always wiping my nose with a tissue, and my allergies distract me to certain amounts, and my eyes might be bothering me being itchy wand watery and stuff.  I am usually pretty self-conscious about it and worry that people might see me snotty and think I look gross being allergic or that all my sneezing is disruptive, etc. 

Allison is great with helping me out.  She looks out for things I am allergic to, she is good at comforting me and helping me out.  She knows pretty well what I need, she has given me some ideas that help a little bit with dealing with my allergies in certain situations, and she helps me out with getting things done.  She is also very patient in many ways with me and my allergies.  She is very allergic to ragweed herself, so during ragweed season she is a bit pre-occupied with dealing with here allergies, so then she is a bit less helpful, but that's understandable.

Q: You mentioned a year ago being stuck outside can be really bad for you and make it hard to communicate. Can you tell us about a time/times when this has happened? What was it like for you and what did you do?  
A: One of the worst times was a number of years ago I was hanging out with a few friends and my allergies started getting really bad and I had to stop and sit down and they got even worse and my friends were trying to help out and trying to figure out what might be bothering me so much, but my allergies were so bad I wasn't able to tell them that it was probably the tree we were right next to.  I also was unable to really get up and walk away and between the constant sneezing and total congestion I couldn't talk.  I felt very helpless and frustrated that I couldn't even let them know I had to get away and get inside.

Q: Kate, when you got your job did you have to tell them upfront about accommodations you would need due to your allergies? How was this discussed between staff and worked out?
A: Depending on how you look at it, I don't really have a 'job'  I do grad work and teaching assisting and research assisting.  I am bad at talking about accommodations.  I usually try my best to suffer through things, and then only ask for help when I am really stuck.  I have to say in general I have been pretty lucky that my professors and supervisors have all been pretty helpful and willing to modify my workload.  I only have had problems with a few other grad students, one who didn't like me, and another just trying to get ahead of everyone else.

Q: You mentioned that past relationships haven't been very understanding....can you go into more detail about that?
A: Oh that can be a very long conversation!  If you want more detail we can chat online sometime about it, but some relationships certainly have not been that understanding.  A few just didn't care much one way or another, I have had some relationships where they thought I was making things out to be worse than they were/looking for attention, and some got really annoyed/fed up with my allergies interfering so much in the relationship.  One was really bad but that one was unhealthy in general anyway.  She really didn't care at all about how bad my allergies made me suffer and she was totally uninterested in being helpful, and she would guilt or force me into doing things/going places where she knew my allergies would be problematic, and then get annoyed at me for my allergies being bad.

As usual, let me know if you have more questions, and feel free to drop a line on e-mail or yahoo (or Skype or MSN messenger) to say hi and chat.


  1. Sounds like you're having a rough time and I hope you're doing ok. Your answers got me thinking- what was your most embarrassing moment related to your allergies?

    1. Wow, a question I kinda don't want to answer on the blog! First time this has happened. I am impressed. I'd rather answer this one privately cause its pretty embarrassing. Message me on yahoo or something and I promise to tell you.

    2. Haha wow! Ok- How do we message you or contact you privately?

    3. I like yahoo chat the best - sneezykate if you need to e-mail then sneezykate@hotmail.com My Skype is also that too.

      I thought this stuff was on my blog, I'll have to check to make sure my contact info is still on it.