Your Seasonal Allergy Guide: Sources, Symptoms and Treatment Options
If you suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms you know how miserable they can make you feel. Allergy symptoms are triggered when your immune system overreacts to something that is otherwise harmless. In trying to protect you, your immune system goes into overdrive, attacking the pollen, dust, pet dander, mold, food—whatever it is that it perceives as a threat.
Seasonal allergies typically happen in the spring, summer and early fall and sometimes even in winter. Some unfortunate folks suffer throughout the year
Are Allergy Seasons Getting Worse?
If it feels like allergy seasons are getting worse every year, you’re probably not imagining things. Allergy and asthma experts say that as carbon dioxide levels increase, it could be driving plant reproductive cycle to produce more pollen, resulting in more allergens. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study in 2011 showing that since 1995, ragweed season has grown longer by 13 to 27 days.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Most common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Allergies can make you feel sick, like you have a cold or flu that won’t go away. Symptoms do not include fever. Allergies can make you tired and “foggy-headed” at times and you might even feel a little achy.
Most Common Allergy Triggers
Allergies can be an issue all year long, depending on where you live. The most common seasonal allergies include:
- Tree pollen
- Tree pollen
- Blooming flowers
- Fungus spores
- Pet dander
Prepare for Allergies Before the Season Comes
If you know you have an allergy, get ready for its seasonal advent ahead of time.
1. Consult with an allergist.
Before the season peaks, start taking previously effective antihistamine drugs. If drugs haven’t helped you in past seasons, your allergist will be aware of new treatments available that might help you feel better.
2. Keep your home as free from allergens as possible.
Clean allergen-magnets such as upholstered furniture, carpeting, bedding and air filters. Vacuum often using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. When you’ve been out, change your clothes when you return home, and don’t hang clothes out to dry. Shower before bed. Use a high efficiency grade filter on your air conditioning and change it often.
3. Manage the mold in your home.
Mold is most common in bathrooms, kitchens, basements and around plumbing leaks. Wash mold off hard surfaces using water and detergent. Seal off any leaks in pipes, roofs and windows. Using a clean humidifier can help.
Allergy Guide: Medications and Treatments
Over the counter and prescription allergy medicines include two types: antihistamines, decongestants, combination antihistamine and decongestant drugs, corticosteroids and more.
Antihistamines have long been used to combat allergy symptoms. They are available as tablets and tablets, liquid, eye drops and nasal spray, over the counter and prescription. Some over the counter drugs, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can cause drowsiness, but many non-drowsy formulas are now available. Antihistamines can subdue symptoms like redness, swelling and itching.
Decongestants are often prescribed along with antihistamines. They relieve congestion. Symptoms include swelling of tissue in the nose, over production of mucous and red eyes caused by swelling blood vessels. Decongestants can be taken as a pill, nasal spray, liquid and in eye drops. Long-term use of decongestant nasal sprays and eye drops can make symptoms more pronounced, while pills and liquid forms may be taken safely for longer periods of time. Decongestants are not recommended for people with high blood pressure or glaucoma and may cause insomnia or irritability.
3. Corticosteroids (Steroids)
Steroids are used to reduce inflammation. They can treat and prevent nasal stuffiness, itching, and runny nose. Steroids are taken as pills, liquids, inhalers for asthma and nasal sprays. For skin allergies, decongestants come in the form of topical creams. Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with topical eye drops. Steroids are available over the counter and by prescription.
Talk to an Allergist
After reviewing this allergy guide, make an appointment to see an allergist early on in the season, or right before it usually begins. Be prepared to tell your doctor what your symptoms are, any family history of allergies and asthma, and any medications and supplements you already take.
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