Students navigate spectrum of symptoms during allergy season


Art by Sophia Kelly

Erik Feng, Senior Staff Writer

Walking into a classroom in April and May is always a tragic sight. Blue Kleenex boxes sit in every room as sniffly students fill trash bins with crumpled tissues.

For some students, allergy season means getting up every once in a while to get a tissue. For others, it means packing portable tissues in their backpack in case teachers have yet to stock up for the allergy apocalypse. (Personally, I prefer to snack on tissues to silence others.)

As someone who has experienced a wide variety of allergy-induced symptoms, I’ve seen how people react to various stages of allergies. Walking through the tissue usage spectrum, people range from the “literal immune system” to the “mass producer of bodily fluids coming out of the nose.” For those lucky enough not to consider themselves allergic to any form of pollen, congratulations –– you have pollen privilege. People don’t spot your allergies because they are less noticeable than Waldo.

For those who get minor symptoms and, at most, get up once during class for tissues, you should get a handkerchief. I don’t know how they work, but they seem pretty appropriate, given the minuscule amount of fluids coming out of this group.

This level is what people typically think of when they think of allergies. However, there are two more levels.

For students who are heavily allergic to pollen, bring tissues from home and employ the advanced technique of “multiple tissues, one trip” to last them through a given period, I feel for you. The number of times these people get up to get tissues becomes not only noticeable but a little absurd to others who don’t have allergies.

This phase is usually where I am at the start of the allergy season, and getting up constantly is annoying and embarrassing.

Finally, there is the “are you sick” category. When you have a bad day with allergies and generally have extreme symptoms, you may end up glued to the tissue box for nearly the whole day. People will mistake your reaction for sickness, and it’s hard to concentrate on anything else when your nose is a water fountain. Please be kind to the human sinks.

No matter where people are on this list, please sympathize with anyone with allergy symptoms. When I’m having a bad day, I question how it is possible for my nose to produce so many fluids when I’m already dehydrated.

And when antihistamines don’t work, I like to shock my immune system with vitamins from my multivitamin tablets and then completely bombard the system with 9000% vitamin C and 6000% vitamin B-12 tablets, which actually seems to work.

Disclaimer: Just because my immune system responds to vitamin overload does not mean it works for everybody. Please do not pop pills after reading this article.

The next time somebody (repeatedly) gets up to blow their stuffy nose, just be thankful it’s not you (yet).