Do you suffer from seasonal allergies?
Are warm weather, trees blossoming, and flowers blooming synonymous with a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat? If you answered yes, you might suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergies can strike any time of year from a variety of causes. However, allergy season occurs in the spring when pollen once again becomes prevalent for many of us.
The powerful effect of allergens can have you desperately searching for relief while trying to pinpoint the root cause of your dripping nose, itchy bumps, and bloodshot eyes. Because many individuals are only seasonal allergy sufferers, they are often more keen on reaching for an antihistamine than visiting an allergist. Unfortunately, an over-the-counter medication may not be enough for those with year-round triggers.
If you’ve ever wondered about your allergy triggers, treatments, and when it’s time to visit an allergist, you’ve come to the right place!
Your immune system is designed to fight off infections, disease, or anything it deems a foreign invader. Allergens are one of these foreign substances, and when your immune system reacts, allergies are the result.
The trigger could be many things, from pollen and pet dander to mold or insect bites. Regardless of the cause, your body reacts in the same way. Antibodies and histamines are released to counteract the allergen. Unfortunately, the allergen isn’t genuinely harmful in most cases, but your body still launches an attack. This attack is why you can get a runny nose and watery eyes or difficulty breathing and hives in more severe cases.
When antibodies are released, several tissues and organs become inflamed. Commonly, your skin, eyes, airways, digestive system, and sinuses. The level of inflammation determines the severity of your allergies.
Seasonal and outdoor allergies are pretty standard. Allergic rhinitis is the term used to describe nasal symptoms caused by inhaled allergens. Many people will also be familiar with hay fever, the common phrase given to allergic rhinitis when experienced in a specific season. Hay fever traditionally came about during the hay-cutting months of the summer season.
However, there are actually three allergy seasons, spring, summer, and fall. During these periods, pollen is at an all-time high. Trees, grasses, and flowers pollinate at different times and in various weather conditions. Plants such as these wind pollinate and, for this reason, are commonly the culprits of allergies.
When these plants are pollinating, allergy sufferers can expect itchy eyes, nose, and mouth, sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and watery eyes that might be red or swollen. This is because the harmless airborne pollen particles are inhaled through your nose or mouth, at which point your body deems them dangerous. Histamines are then sent out through your body, triggering the all too familiar symptoms.
Another common outdoor allergen not tied to pollination is mold. This irritating fungus can grow on leaves, logs, wood chips, compost piles, and grain stores. When you disturb the mold, such as on a nice fall hike, the spores are released and circulate in the air. Mold spores cause many of the same symptoms as seasonal allergies and coughing, and dry, scaly skin. Therefore, mold is the most common allergen you may come into contact with during mild winter months.
Treatment may vary from mild to intense depending on your allergy and how severe the symptoms are.
The best way not to have an allergic reaction is by avoiding the allergen. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.
Staying indoors on high pollen days, not hanging your laundry outdoors to dry, and other preventative measures can help keep seasonal allergies at bay. Although many of us either are unable or unwilling to stay inside all day long. Regardless of the season, people with mild to moderate allergies typically search for a treatment option that reduces their symptoms and allows them to carry on with daily activities.
Should you not be willing to avoid your allergen altogether, there are several over-the-counter remedies.
Popular options include:
Most allergy medicines on the market are combination medications, meaning they work to fight all the significant allergy symptoms. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any medication.
Of course, there are numerous home remedies available with varied results. Popular treatments include ingesting honey, using saline nasal rinses, and acupuncture. Consult your doctor before trying home remedies like spirulina or shrub butterbur.
Nearly all tolerance therapies fall under allergen desensitization. While this treatment is generally reserved for severe allergies to things like peanuts or shellfish, desensitization can also be used to combat environmental allergens.
There are three primary methods used in allergen desensitization: oral, subcutaneous, and sublingual immunotherapy. They all work to train your body to stop overreacting to allergens resulting in decreased symptoms. However, not all of them are recommended for seasonal allergies.
An allergist will usually recommend these treatment types if necessary.
If any of these factors apply to you, an allergen can help you identify your triggers, make a treatment plan, and get your symptoms under control!