When warmer weather appears, some people head to the beach. But others find themselves coughing or sneezing more than usual. These symptoms can be alarming, especially since they overlap with the common cold or COVID-19 symptoms. But they can also be the result of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies (also referred to as allergic rhinitis or hay fever) are caused by the immune system’s overreaction to pollen and airborne molds – mainly from trees, grass, flowers, or weeds. Identifying seasonal allergy symptoms, and then verifying them with an allergy test, is the best first step to knowing if you need to start taking an antihistamine medication or other allergy precautions.
If you think you have seasonal allergies, read on to learn more.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies, but the specific symptoms and severity vary from person to person.
Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Post-nasal drip (which can sometimes lead to a sore throat)
- Runny nose
- Pressure or painful sinuses
- Stuffy nose
- Watery, red, puffy eyes
- Mild fatigue
- Itchy mouth, nose, throat, ears, or eyes
This combination can be enough to make any allergy sufferer feel miserable and generally unwell. Many people develop a mental “fuzz” that can reduce their concentration, decrease their ability to make decisions, impair their hand-eye coordination, and even impact their memory. They may catch themselves feeling extra irritable. If left unchecked, allergy symptoms can also contribute to sleep disorders that lead to even worse fatigue and health issues.
Managing Your Symptoms
Sometimes the easiest way to manage your allergy symptoms is to reduce your exposure to allergens. Here’s how:
- Check your local pollen forecast frequently. Stay inside when pollen levels are elevated. If you have to go outside, avoid peak pollen times (usually midmorning and early evening). You can also wear a mask to reduce the amount of pollen you inhale.
- Stay inside on windy, dry days. Pollen tends to be more abundant and hangs in the air for longer.
- Keep your windows closed in your home and car.
- Avoid using window fans. They pull allergens into your home from outside.
- Don’t hang laundry outside to dry. Pollen easily sticks to damp cloth.
- Keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Air conditioning can help prevent air from getting stagnant, but HEPA filters are even better. They filter out pollen and other common allergens like pet dander.
- Clean your floors and carpets using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Keep your indoor air on the dry side. Humidity is good outside because it weighs down pollen, but mold and dust mites (the most common indoor allergens) both thrive in humidity.
There is a range of over-the-counter medications that can ease your allergy symptoms and temporarily help you feel more comfortable.
These medications inhibit histamines, the chemical compound your immune system releases that cause your allergy symptoms. A wide range of oral antihistamines can be found at your local pharmacy.
These medications are effective for reducing symptoms but come with side effects. Drowsiness is the most common side effect, especially with older-style antihistamines. If you experience severe side effects, talk to your doctor.
Decongestants can unplug a stuffy nose, help you breathe easier, and reduce sinus pressure. They come in oral forms and nasal sprays. Only use nasal sprays occasionally. Using long-term can backfire and worsen your allergy symptoms.
Some allergy medications combine antihistamines with decongestants. These medications address various symptoms without having to take multiple medications.
Saline Nasal Sprays
Unlike decongestant nasal sprays, you can use saline sprays as often as needed. A saline nasal spray is a simple saline solution that can break down thick mucus, moisturize dry nasal passages, and flush out pollen and other irritants.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Allergy Drops for Long-Lasting Relief
If over-the-counter medications and natural remedies aren’t enough to relieve your allergy symptoms, consider sublingual allergy drops. A form of immunotherapy, allergy drops train your body to stop responding to allergens. They do this by exposing the immune system to amounts of the allergen so small, the body doesn’t react. Over time, the immune system builds a tolerance and doesn’t respond when exposed to the allergen within the environment, giving your long-lasting allergy relief!
Do Seasonal Allergies Have You Down?
If you think you’re allergic to tree pollen, ragweed pollen, or other common seasonal allergies, know for certain by talking to an allergy specialist. At Wyndly, our allergy doctors can confirm your allergies and create a personalized treatment plan to help you beat your allergies. Book your initial consultation now and get an at-home allergy test free!