Common seasonal allergies and how to find relief
Summer is here! With the return of warmer weather and longer days, you probably want to spend as much time outside as possible. But if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you might worry about exposing yourself to outdoor allergy triggers. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, outdoor seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are triggered when you breathe outdoor allergens into your nose and lungs. Here’s an overview of common seasonal allergies, symptoms and treatment options.
Common seasonal allergies
The most common seasonal allergy trigger is pollen, tiny airborne particles that are created by trees, grasses and weeds for the purpose of fertilizing other plants. Other seasonal allergies stem from mold, which is present in our homes year-round but typically flourishes during warm and humid seasons. Spring and summer seasonal allergies can also be triggered by smoke from barbecue pits and campfires, insect bites and stings and chlorine in swimming pools.
There are many environmental causes, but you have a larger risk of developing these allergies if you have a family history of allergies, particularly in parents or siblings.
For most people, common seasonal allergies are uncomfortable but not severe. The most common symptoms are coughing, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes and runny nose. If you have more serious seasonal allergy symptoms, such as rashes, hives, lower blood pressure, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks and chest tightness, you should contact your doctor or allergy specialist immediately.
Short-term treatment options
There are many different treatment options available for seasonal allergy sufferers. Here’s a breakdown of some over-the-counter medications that treat specific allergy symptoms:
- Antihistamines. These medications target the part of the immune system response that leads to symptoms like sneezing and runny nose.
- Decongestants. These medications decrease stuffiness and sinus pressure by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose and sinuses.
- Nasal sprays. These products can help ease nasal congestion and post-nasal drip.
- Eye drops. These products work to treat the eye irritation caused by pollen exposure.
Long-term treatment options
If you suffer from severe symptoms, you may want to consider long-term treatment options:
- Allergen immunotherapy. Allergen immunotherapy involves a weekly shot administered in your doctor’s or specialist’s office prior to the start of the allergy season. This medication exposes you to your allergens gradually, so that you are less likely to have an allergic reaction. This medication is also available in prescription sublingual drops and pill form.
- Prescription nasal spray. While antihistamine sprays ease severe congestion, itchy nose and runny nose, steroidal nasal sprays help you breathe better by decreasing the amount of swelling in your nose.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that as many as 30 percent of adults in the United States are affected by nasal allergies. If you suffer from severe seasonal allergy symptoms, you should reach out to your doctor to explore different treatment options.
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