When an individual has seasonal allergies, their immune system reacts to a trigger that does not normally bother other individuals.
These people can suffer from a whole host of symptoms such as allergic rhinitis, and a runny or stuffy nose. Those suffering from asthma can also have allergy asthma, wherein they have both asthma and allergy symptoms.
Which season triggers seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergy triggers include exposure to outdoor allergens and indoor allergens such as odors, dust, trees, grasses, and weeds that are present only during particular times of the year.
Contrary to popular belief, spring allergy season is not the only time your body’s immune system overreacts. The other seasons can also be considered allergy seasons.
Spring just happens to be the season when pollen allergens are most abundant. But summer allergies do exist, which are basically caused by the same allergy triggers as spring allergies.
Ragweed can trigger fall allergies and is, in fact, the most prominent allergen during this season. Fruits like bananas, melons, and zucchini can also cause allergic rhinitis in people allergic to ragweed.
Winter allergies are caused by anything indoors. Dust mites, indoor pollen, mold spores, smoke, and scents can trigger allergies during the winter season.
What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
Individuals with seasonal allergy symptoms, also known as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, experience the following symptoms usually at the same time of every year:
- stuffy or runny nose
- watery eyes
- itchy nose
- itchy eyes
- nasal congestion
- postnasal drainage
- allergic rhinitis
There are also symptoms that are less common for seasonal allergies including:
- shortness of breath
Specialists and some GPs know how to deal with these symptoms and should be contacted for treatment plans for non-emergency cases.
Do you have COVID-19 or just seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies and COVID-19 share some symptoms such as headache, and upper respiratory tract symptoms like sneezing and coughing. However, individuals who are infected with COVID-19 also usually experience fever, muscle aches, and a loss of sense of taste and smell.
At times, these are accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, sore throat, chest discomfort, or difficulty in catching your breath.
Another difference between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies is that the latter’s symptoms are not contagious. The best way to rule out COVID-19 is to get tested for it.
In addition, it’s best to practice health precautions like staying home as much as possible, washing your hands, wearing masks properly, and getting vaccinated against the virus.
How are seasonal allergies diagnosed?
Unlike regular colds that last about a week or two, seasonal allergies usually last longer. Moreover, if you experience these common seasonal allergy signs during allergy season, you might need to consult with a doctor.
You’ll then be sent to an allergist who will check your nasal passages and administer skin prick testing to check for potential allergic response. Blood tests might also be administered.
These tests and allergen-specific blood tests can help confirm which type of allergen affects you, your symptoms, and the best treatment plan for your allergy symptoms.
How can you treat seasonal allergies?
There are several possible ways of treating allergic rhinitis. But what’s important is knowing what triggers them.
As mentioned earlier, allergy testing can identify what triggers your seasonal allergy symptoms. Tree pollen typically appears in spring. Grasses shed pollen in late spring and summer, and ragweed produces pollen in the fall.
Also during the spring, summer, and fall, mold spores may cause seasonal allergies. Buildings with too much moisture can also trigger allergies. Here are some ways how you can treat seasonal allergies:
Medication and therapy
Over-the-counter antihistamines like Loratadine, Cetirizine, and Fexofenadine are effective in lessening the symptoms of hay fever and managing your allergic reaction.
If these do not work for you, prescription medications like corticosteroids may be given in the form of eye drops, nasal spray, or pills. These allergy medications control your immune system, which is what causes your allergic reactions in the first place.
You can also ask your doctor about oral, nasal, and ocular medicines, as well as cough medications that can treat a variety of allergy symptoms such as hay fever, runny nose, or watery eyes.
But for severe cases, allergen immunotherapy may be recommended by your doctor.
This is done to build your immune system’s tolerance against allergic triggers by exposing you to the allergen in small doses.
There are two ways in which this can be done:
First is through subcutaneous injections, wherein the doctor injects your arm with a small dose of your allergen. This is done repeatedly over the course of many months or even years.
The other way is through sublingual immunotherapy, where the doctor prescribes you tablets or drops that dissolve under the tongue, which is why it’s called sublingual. However, sublingual immunotherapy only works for individuals who are allergic to grass and ragweed.
Reducing your exposure
An easier way to avoid getting seasonal allergies is avoidance. The key to minimizing your exposure to allergens is being aware of the seasons and keeping track of daily pollen and mold spore levels. You would know when to schedule your outdoor activities.
Make sure to stay indoors on dry, windy days and ensure that your home, office, and car windows are closed to prevent pollen from coming in. You can also use an air conditioner with a filter instead of using ceiling fans to limit the amount of dust and other hay fever causing allergies from propagating.
When outdoors, you can wear a mask to protect yourself from inhaling pollen. You can also wear a hat to make sure nothing sticks to your hair.
Immediately change your clothes upon getting home as pollen sticks to your clothes and stays there even after brushing it off. Make sure to wash your hair before going to bed to keep pollen off your pillows and prevent yourself from inhaling them.
Keep your space clean
Removing anything that can cause an allergic reaction is key. Regularly vacuum your floors and upholstery using a HEPA filter to trap pollen as these can cause hay fever.
If you have pets, bathe them regularly as they can also track in pollen from outdoors, and loose animal dander can cause allergic rhinitis flare-ups.
In the kitchen and bathroom, use mold-killing cleaners to prevent mold spores from growing. These spores can also cause allergic reactions, and they grow in spaces with excess moisture.
As much as possible, stay indoors during hours with high pollen counts, which is usually early in the morning and at dusk.
Manage Your Seasonal Allergies with CityDoc
Dealing with symptoms brought about by seasonal allergies can be a difficult ordeal. This is why it’s important to know if you are allergic, what you are allergic to, and how to manage your hay fever.
If you experience the symptoms stated above, contact a doctor with the proper medical expertise to find out how to treat and ease symptoms of seasonal allergies.
If you’re based in Texas, CityDoc Urgent Care is ready to care for your health. We offer treatments and services for seasonal allergies, as well as a variety of other conditions. We also offer COVID-19 testing.
Visit any of our four locations in Texas: Uptown
, Inwood Village
, and Fort Worth
. Or you can book an online appointment