Spring signifies blooming trees and flowers. For many Americans, spring is a time of beauty and warming weather. Unfortunately, if you are one of the 20 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms, springtime can be miserable.
For many in the United States, allergy season begins in February and continues until early summer. However, if you live in warmer areas of the U.S., you could experience allergy symptoms for up to 10 months each year.
So why do seasonal allergy symptoms happen, and what can we do about it? By learning more about seasonal allergies, you will know how to combat the symptoms you may be experiencing and how to avoid allergens.
How Does an Allergic Reaction Happen?
An allergic reaction, including seasonal allergies, occurs when your immune system treats a harmless foreign substance as a threat. Your immune system produces antibodies to ward off the allergen that it believes to be harmful, even though it’s not. Seasonal allergy symptoms can be brought on by several different allergens, including:
- Grasses, such as timothy grass and ryegrass
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal allergy symptoms can include:
- Stuffy nose or runny nose
- Itchy nose, eyes or the roof of your mouth
- Swollen, red, and watery eyes
- Mucus in your throat
The severity and longevity of allergy symptoms vary from person to person and between incidents. Some people may also experience allergy symptoms that are not listed above.
Who is Most Likely to Develop Seasonal Allergies?
You can develop seasonal allergies at any age. However, you will be more likely to develop allergies if one or both of your parents have allergies. If both of your parents have a seasonal allergy, your odds of developing them are more than double. You can still develop seasonal allergies if neither of your parents has allergies, but it is less likely.
6 Ways to Reduce and Manage Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Allergy season got you down? Here are six ways that you can reduce and manage your allergy symptoms.
1. Reduce Your Exposure to Seasonal Allergy Triggers
Reducing your exposure to allergens is the most effective way to manage your seasonal allergies. While you may not be able to eliminate allergens in your environment, you can take steps to mitigate your exposure.
When you go outside during allergy season, try to avoid dry or windy days. The best time to go out is after it has rained as there will be less pollen in the air. If possible, delegate specific outdoor tasks such as weed pulling, gardening, and lawn mowing to other members of your family. These tasks stir up allergens and will likely cause allergy symptoms. If you must do these tasks, minimize your symptoms by wearing a pollen mask.
If you do go out, remove and wash clothes that you wore and take a shower to remove pollen from your skin and hair. Finally, never hang your clothes, bedding, or other items outside to dry as this can lead to further allergens inside of your home.
2. Take Extra Precautions during Periods of High Pollen Counts
You can take extra precautions to protect yourself from pollen allergens by checking the news as part of your healthy morning routine. If high pollen levels are forecasted, take your allergy medication before you begin to show allergy symptoms. By closing all of your doors and windows during high pollen periods, you can prevent allergens from getting into your home.
3. Keep the Air Clean Indoors
While nothing can completely eliminate allergens from inside of your home, there are steps you can take to keep the air indoors as clean as possible. High-efficiency filters for forced air and heating units can help tremendously. Keep up to date on any regular maintenance schedules for these units and use a dehumidifier to keep the air inside of your home dry. Clean floors often during allergy season and make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter. Always run your heat or air conditioning during allergy seasons that impact your symptoms.
4. Try Over-the-Counter Medicines (OTCs)
Over-the-counter medications can ease allergy symptoms when you’re unable to eliminate allergens from your environment. OTCs that can reduce your symptoms include:
- Decongestants: Decongestant OTCs will decongest your nasal passageways, which helps relieve a stuffy nose. Decongestants can be taken orally or as a nasal spray. However, it is not recommended that you use nasal sprays for more than a few days in a row as long term use can worsen your allergy symptoms. Examples of decongestant OTCs include Afrin, Neo-Synephrine, Sudafed, and Afrinol.
- Oral Antihistamines: Oral antihistamines relieve allergy symptoms such as a stuffy, itchy, or runny nose. These OTCs can also reduce itchy or watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamine OTCs include Alavert and Claritin.
- Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays can be an effective way to relieve allergy symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose. These medications do not have many side effects, but they are often more effective when used before your allergy symptoms begin.
Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing and the severity, you may want to consider a combination of over-the-counter medication. Certain medicines, such as Claritin-D and Allegra-D, combine the benefits of antihistamines and decongestants.
5. Use Saline Solution to Rinse Your Sinuses
Some of the most common allergy symptoms affect your sinuses, such as a runny, stuffy, or itchy nose. You may be able to find relief from your allergy symptoms by rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution. Saline solutions can flush out the allergens and mucus trapped in your nasal passageways. However, it is crucial that you only use water that is distilled, previously boiled and cooled, filtered, or otherwise sterile. These are steps that you should consult with your doctor before taking.
6. Consider Alternative Treatments
There are several alternatives and natural treatment options available for seasonal allergies. Many of these treatment methods have been gaining popularity in recent years. Some claim that treatments such as acupuncture can help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Other natural treatment options that have been gaining ground include certain essential oils and certain nutrients such as vitamin C and quercetin.
Final Thoughts from USHEALTH Group
There is no cure for seasonal allergies, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the allergy season. Seasonal allergies are a bothersome nuisance, but there are several ways that you can reduce your allergy symptoms and have the chance to enjoy the springtime. Now you can take the right precautions to help you manage your seasonal allergies and treat your symptoms in an effective way.
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