Allergies are a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. Symptoms occur when the immune system overreacts to certain substances such as pollen, dust, animal dander, or certain foods.
Like other chronic health conditions, allergies can significantly impact quality of life, and have a big impact on our ability to perform at work and school. In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, allergies and allergic rhinitis impact work productivity more than hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.
Luckily, there are several options for those struggling with the effects of allergies. In this post, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
The symptoms of seasonal allergies can vary depending on the person, but the most common symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Scratchy or sore throat
The symptoms can range from mild to severe and can greatly impact a person's quality of life. It’s essential to identify the triggers that cause these symptoms to manage them effectively.
If you’re struggling with allergies and aren’t sure what’s triggering them, talk to your doctor. It might be time to see an immunologist. They can perform tests like blood tests or skin prick tests to help determine what you’re reacting to.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are caused by allergens that are present during specific times of the year. The most common allergens that cause seasonal allergies are pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
When these allergens enter the body, the immune system reacts by producing antibodies. These antibodies trigger the release of histamine, which causes the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
It’s important to note that not all allergies are seasonal. Some people have allergies to food, pets, and other things that affect them year round, all the time. In some cases, these allergies are severe enough to cause anaphylaxis — a life threatening condition.
If you have a severe allergic reaction, it’s important to get emergency medical attention right away, and talk to your doctor about a prescription for epinephrine.
Treatment Options for Seasonal Allergies
There are several treatment options available to manage seasonal allergies. The most common treatment options include:
- Antihistamines - These are medications that block the release of histamine, reducing symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Decongestants - These are medications that help reduce swelling in the nasal passages, making it easier to breathe.
- Nasal corticosteroids - These are nasal sprays that reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, reducing symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Immunotherapy - This treatment involves exposing the body to small amounts of allergens over time, which can help reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.
In addition to medication, there are also several lifestyle changes that can help manage seasonal allergies. These include:
- Avoiding allergens by staying indoors when pollen counts are high
- Using air filters in the home to reduce the amount of allergens in the air
- Washing bedding and clothing frequently to remove allergens
- Using saline nasal sprays to help rinse allergens from the nasal passages
Seasonal allergies can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition to live with, but there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms. It’s essential to identify the triggers that cause your allergies and work with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to manage seasonal allergies and improve quality of life.