How to Prevent, Recognize, and Treat Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies are a pain. If you're one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, then you know all too well how miserable they make your life.
You're likely familiar with the typical allergy symptoms: sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and itchy or watery eyes. But what you may not know is that seasonal allergies can happen any time of year, depending on the allergen. So what does this mean for your seasonal allergies?
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are caused when your immune system overreacts to harmless substances (called allergens) in the environment. Pollen particles, for example, include proteins that can irritate the eyes, nose, sinuses, and throat. The body responds to the irritant by generating antibodies and releasing histamine.
What Causes Allergy Symptoms?
Histamine is your body’s first defense when it comes to environmental allergens, as it tries to rid your body of the substance. In this attempt, histamine may make your nose and tongue itch. It may make your eyes water or your nose run. Histamine can make you cough and sneeze. It’s also responsible for causing your skin to itch and turn red.
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies are sometimes referred to as hay fever. They’re called this because farmers are often plagued with allergy symptoms during the hay-cutting season. The medical term for seasonal allergies is allergic rhinitis, and it refers to the allergic symptoms caused by outdoor allergens like tree pollens, grass pollens, and weed pollens (which are often connected to the season).
When Is Allergy Season?
Seasonal allergies can occur at any time of the year. People often think allergy symptoms spring up in April and May and last through September. Therefore, spring is sometimes thought of as allergy season, yet the months between December and April are the most common for allergies
Depending on what you’re allergic to, allergy season can happen at different times throughout the year. And since allergies can occur in winter, spring, summer, or fall, there really is no one allergy season. Instead, it’s different for everyone, depending on what you’re allergic to and where you live.
Spring allergies are common, especially when there are a variety of trees in bloom. Tree pollen can become so plentiful that it covers the ground, vehicles, and most outdoor surfaces. But it’s not just the trees. Grass pollens also reach peak highs in late spring, which means for those with seasonal allergies, the abundance of outdoor pollen can force you indoors.
Pollen levels are highest in the spring, but pollen and weeds can be especially difficult to deal with during the summer. Those with mold allergies also become symptomatic as mold thrives in heat and creates irritating mold spores. This combination of outdoor and indoor seasonal allergies can make it hard to manage symptoms.
One of the most common allergens that results in hay fever is ragweed. It’s found in every state in the U.S., and about 20% of the population has an allergic response to the common weed. Ragweed is in the genus Ambrosia, and it comprises soft-stemmed plants. These weeds begin to bloom in mid-August and are a major trigger for fall allergies. Each plant produces up to one billion particles of pollen that can travel for miles.
Although the first frost provides relief for those who are sensitive to outdoor pollen-producing plants, indoor allergies can cause problems in the winter. Mold, dust mites, pet dander, and cockroaches all cause allergies that may flair during the winter months. And because the weather is bad for many, people are stuck indoors where winter allergies may worsen.
How to Recognize Seasonal Allergies
Sometimes, people mistake seasonal allergies for the common cold, as they share several symptoms. However, allergies typically last through a season, with symptoms lingering a month or more. Colds, on the other hand, last seven to 10 days. What’s more, the symptoms associated with a cold tend to be consistent, while allergy symptoms sometimes come and go, only appearing when you’re outside or exposed to allergens.
Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Postnasal drip
- Frequent throat clearing
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Itchy throat
You may experience all of these symptoms or just a few. Seasonal allergy symptoms may also range from mild to severe, depending on your body’s response.
Allergies and COVID-19
Not only are seasonal allergy symptoms similar to cold symptoms, but they can also be mistaken for COVID-19. There are a few key differences to help you tell them apart.
Allergies are characterized by an itching sensation in the eyes, nose, or throat. COVID-19 does not typically cause itching. While both COVID-19 and allergies can induce a runny or stuffy nose or a mild cough, COVID-19 can also cause fever, muscular pains, constipation, and headaches. A loss of taste or smell is also an indicator of many COVID-19 cases while allergies don’t cause this symptom. If you have asthma that worsens during allergy season, you may experience difficulty breathing, but the majority of COVID-19 symptoms are not seen with seasonal allergies.
What Are the Best Ways to Prevent Seasonal Allergies?
The best prevention is to avoid your allergy triggers. Avoidance isn't always easy, especially if you're sensitive to pollen and mold, which are found everywhere. However, you can take steps to minimize symptoms. Check out these tips:
- Stay indoors when the pollen count is high
- Wear sunglasses to stop pollen from getting into your eyes
- Use an air filtration system at home
- Dry clothes and sheets in the dryer instead of hanging them outside
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce mold growth
- Cover your bedding in dust-mite protective coverings
How to Treat Seasonal Allergies
The first step in allergy treatment is talking to your healthcare provider. They may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter medication like antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, or eye drops. While these medications do help reduce symptoms, the relief is temporary and short-term. They do nothing to address the underlying cause of your allergy symptoms and, instead, only focus on the symptoms.
If you have persistent allergies or any issues with your skin reactions, get an allergy test to determine what your allergy triggers are. Our at-home allergy test kit gets sent right to your door and only involves a simple finger poke.
Once you get results, your allergy doctor may suggest additional treatment like immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is the only clinically-proven treatment to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms for lifelong relief. By exposing your body to trace amounts of allergens, immunotherapy trains your immune system to stop reacting. Over time, your body becomes acclimated to certain triggers and you get long-lasting allergy relief.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Allergy Drops
Sublingual immunotherapy allergy drops are safe and effective. You administer allergy drops at home by spraying the medication under your tongue. Throughout the treatment process, your immune system reacts less and you suffer from fewer and less severe allergy symptoms.
Long-Lasting Allergy Relief Delivered Right to Your Door
At Wyndly, we’ve set out to make the immunotherapy process as easy and pain-free as possible. Our doctors use a simple, at-home test and provide you with a personalized allergy profile. Using your allergy history and allergy profile our doctors create a personalized treatment plan to help you experience lifelong relief.
If you’re ready to beat your seasonal allergies, then get your personalized treatment plan today and be one step closer to long-lasting allergy relief.
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