Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies. In fact, it's one of the most common medical conditions in the United States. Allergies can come with various uncomfortable symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
But, can seasonal allergies cause other symptoms, like an increased heart rate or high blood pressure?
What are Seasonal Allergies?
To understand how seasonal allergies could potentially impact your heart rate, we must first explore what they are and what causes them. Seasonal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever, happen when your body has an overreactive immune response to specific environmental substances.
The most common seasonal allergies are caused by pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. When these pollens are in season, they can trigger an allergy reaction if you have allergies. Other causes of environmental allergies include mold spores and dust mites.
These substances, or allergens, are harmless, but for people with allergies, they can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal allergies can result in a range of symptoms depending on the severity of your allergy. While you might not experience every allergy symptom, the most common ones include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy throat
- Aggravated allergy symptoms
What Causes Severe Allergic Reactions?
In some cases, seasonal allergies can even lead to a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency. Anaphylaxis happens when your body has an especially overreactive immune response to an allergen. It can cause a range of dangerous symptoms, including:
- Tightening of the throat
- Trouble breathing
- A drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical help immediately. Most people with a known severe allergic reaction have been prescribed an EpiPen, which is a device that can inject them with adrenaline in the event of anaphylaxis.
Can Seasonal Allergies Cause an Increased Heart Rate?
So, now that we know more about seasonal allergies, can they cause an increased heart rate or high blood pressure? In short, allergies on their own do not cause these symptoms.
However, seasonal allergies may indirectly contribute to these cardiovascular effects in two ways.
First, people with seasonal allergies often take decongestants to relieve their symptoms. Decongestants are a type of medication that can help to reduce congestion by narrowing the blood vessels in your nose.
Common over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants include pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. While these drugs are generally safe, they can have side effects, one of which is an increased heart rate.
Another way that seasonal allergies may indirectly contribute to an increased heart rate is through the use of nasal sprays. A nasal spray is a common treatment for allergy symptoms, and it works by delivering medication directly to the nose.
While nasal sprays are generally safe, they can have side effects, such as an increased heart rate. This is more likely to occur with the overuse of the spray, so it's important to follow the instructions on the packaging and only use the spray as directed.
Are Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications Safe for Your Heart?
While seasonal allergies alone cannot cause these symptoms, the medications used to treat them can. Decongestants are stimulants. As such, they can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Some nasal sprays may not contain stimulants, but their side effects can include increased heart rate.
Talk to your doctor or allergist if you're concerned about the effects of OTC allergy medications on your heart. They can help you to choose the best medication for your individual needs.
Alternative Allergy Medications
If you're concerned about the effects of decongestants and nasal sprays, there are other allergy treatments you can try to get allergy relief.
Nasal Saline Rinse
Saline rinses are a safe and effective way to temporarily clean the nose and remove allergens. It's also helpful in reducing congestion.
To use a saline rinse, you'll need to mix a teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of water. Then, using a neti pot or similar device, pour the solution into one nostril and allow it to drain out the other.
Antihistamines are another type of medication that you can use to temporarily treat seasonal allergies. They work by blocking histamine, a chemical your body releases in response to an allergen.
While histamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of allergies, it's also important for other functions, such as digestion. As such, oral antihistamines can have side effects, including dry mouth, drowsiness, and constipation.
You may be a candidate for allergy shots if you have severe allergies. Allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy that can help to reduce the severity of your allergies over time.
The shots work by exposing you to small amounts of the allergen. This helps your body to build up a tolerance to the allergen and can reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Allergy shots are usually given once a week for several months and then monthly for several years. They are generally considered safe but can cause side effects, such as redness, swelling, and itchiness at the injection site. Allergy shots can also be a big time commitment since you need to wait at your doctor’s office for 30 minutes after getting an allergy shot to make sure you don’t experience a severe allergy reaction.
Sublingual immunotherapy is another type of immunotherapy that can be used to treat seasonal allergies. Sublingual immunotherapy, also called allergy drops and tablets, operates similarly to allergy shots. However, unlike allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy is taken under the tongue instead of injected.
Sublingual immunotherapy can also be safely taken from the comfort of your home and does not require frequent trips to the doctor’s office as allergy shots do.
Learn More About Sublingual Allergy Immunotherapy at Wyndly
Are you interested in getting rid of your allergy symptoms for good? Our doctors at Wyndly will work with you to get you a personalized treatment plan and long-term symptom relief.
Take our quick survey to see if sublingual immunotherapy is right for you!