The main culprit behind the sneezing is pollen, which is essentially plant sperm — and nature is promiscuous. (You know this if you have ever seen your car turn yellow overnight.) One ragweed plant alone can produce a billion grains. Early in the spring, trees such as oak and birch shed the stuff. By late spring through fall, grasses and weeds take over as major sources, so there’s the potential for months of suffering. The wind can carry grains for miles, and they are small enough to get into your eyes, nose, and lungs. “Allergies happen when your immune system misidentifies pollen as a threatening invader and overreacts,” says Bassett, who is also the author of The New Allergy Solution. Mast cells, immune cells found in connective tissue in the skin, nose, lungs, and elsewhere, pump out histamine, which creates inflammation and causes your runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. (Any sniffle can be alarming in these times, but there are ways to distinguish allergy symptoms from Covid-19 symptoms.)

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