Seasonal changes affect student life

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Spring weather can expose individuals to seasonal allergens. Washing hands and using nasal spray can help treat allergy symptoms. (Maddi Driggs)

Seasonal changes affect students both physically and emotionally as temperatures heat up from the unyielding Utah winter.

Allergies are common as the seasons change. Season changes are notorious for bringing bouts of hay fever and stuffy noses. For students attending classes in the spring, this can be a huge problem.

Dr. Keith Willmore, medical director of the BYU Health Center, said seasonal allergies can present themselves in a variety of ways.

“Seasonal allergies usually present themselves as runny noses, sneezing and coughing,” Willmore said. “But they can even present as flu-like symptoms.”

Katie Walker, a senior at BYU, explained the effects allergies have on her everyday life.

“At work and school I’m always sneezing, which is kind of embarrassing,” Walker said. “When they’re the worst I feel like I have the flu, so even just talking on the phone or watching TV can be exhausting. I try and manage my symptoms when I’m out and about with medication, so usually during the day before it wears off I can manage.”

Morgan Akana, a junior studying film, said seasonal allergies are very debilitating when it comes to schoolwork.

“I’ve had to leave classes before because it’s gotten so bad,” Akana said. “My face feels like it swells up and pretty much the only way of fixing it at that point is taking a lot of Benadryl and going to sleep.”

Officials at the Mayo Clinic give some good tips in dealing with allergies. It is also a good idea to check the pollen count in local areas and avoid going outside when it’s high. In order to reduce exposure to allergens, students can try to reduce exposure to allergy triggers. This includes not going outside in windy weather when pollen can get in the air. Using air conditioning can also reduce the pollen count in houses and cars.

Willmore also gave tips to preventing and treating seasonal allergies.

Getting outside and exercising can help combat seasonal affective disorder. (Kjersten Johnson)
Getting outside and exercising can help combat seasonal affective disorder. (Kjersten Johnson)

“Take medicines when you get symptoms,” Willmore said. “Try nasal spray sooner rather than later. Wash hands frequently and try not to touch your face so much to prevent exposure.”

Seasonal changes can also bring about mood changes. While changes put a spring in some people’s steps, there are other people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that comes seasonally. Usually, signs start in fall and winter months, but sometimes SAD causes depression in the spring or summer. Symptoms include irritability, low energy, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating and loss of interest in daily activities.

Naomi McMurray, a junior from Texas, saw a definite change in mood during seasonal changes.

“I didn’t experience any of this until I came to college,” McMurray said. “I’m from a place that doesn’t have bad winters, so coming here was a shock.”

Jennifer Williams, a doctoral intern for BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), said there are more students who come to the counseling center during the fall and winter months.

“The counseling center does tend to see more students in the fall and winter, rather than in the spring and summer,” Williams said. “We do know that many students leave for the spring/summer terms to take this time off, and so there is naturally a decrease in service utilization during these terms.”

Willmore also gave ways for students to combat seasonal affective disorder.

“Students need to get more light,” Willmore said. “Doctors can prescribe antidepressants as well as a bank of lights that help combat light deprivation. Students need to get adequate sleep, exercise and work in as much light as you can.”

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