Seasonal Allergy

Information on symptoms of seasonal allergies such as dry itchy eyes and sneezing fits.

An overactive immune system causes seasonal allergies.

Select a Topic

  1. What are Seasonal Allergies?
  2. What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
  3. Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies
  4. Help for Seasonal Allergies
  5. More Information on Seasonal Allergies

What are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies are allergies that result from seasonal pollens that occur at specific times of the year – most commonly during spring, summer and fall. While most of us may look forward to spring or fall, allergy sufferers dread the arrival of these seasons.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

This condition is caused by an overactive immune system that responds to the allergen – usually the pollens. In the eastern, southern, and Midwestern United States, spring pollens usually come from trees (oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper, and olive). In the early summer, pollens come from grasses (bluegrasses, timothy, redtop, and orchard grass).

In the late summer, pollens come from ragweed. Seasonal allergy is also caused by mold spores, which can be airborne for long periods of time during the spring, summer, and fall. Allergic conjunctivitis (a condition of the eye) may result when airborne substances, such as pollens, contact the eyes directly.

Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
  • Itching of the nose, roof of the mouth, back of the throat, and eyes
  • Running nose (producing a clear watery discharge or blocked ‘stuffy’ nose
  • Sneezing fits
  • Red eyes and swollen eyelids (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Dry itchy eyes
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing (mild asthma)
  • Irritability

Rare symptoms may also include: depression, loss of appetite and insomnia. Allergy sufferers may also commonly experience eczema and asthma as well as rashes when they have bouts of seasonal allergies.

Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies

The diagnosis of season allergies is based on the time frame (when the allergy occurs). Nasal discharge may be examined to see if it contains a type of white blood cell produced in large numbers as a result of an allergic reaction. Skin tests (the skin is lightly scratched and a concentrate of the allergen is dropped onto the skin) can help confirm the diagnosis and the identity of the allergen.

Help for Seasonal Allergies

There are various conventional medications (such as nasal sprays, allergy shots and antihistamine drugs) to control the symptoms of allergies, however, they are not necessarily effective in the long term. Antihistamines and decongestants are also commonly prescribed – but may come with side effects – people with high blood pressure for example, should not take a decongestant unless they are monitored.

Decongestant nose drops or sprays and eye-drops should be temporary – as continual use for a week or more may worsen nasal congestion. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may also be prescribed – but they can cause nosebleeds and a sore nose. Strong allergy medication can also cause drowsiness, and sever side effects – so caution is advised.

More Information on Seasonal Allergies

Tips related to seasonal allergies
  • Try to limit time outdoors when it is very windy (as pollen is flying in the air). Rather venture out after the rain
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eye with your fingers (try using cucumber slices to lessen itchiness)
  • Flush your eyes out with clean cold water when they start to feel bothered and sore
  • If you venture out during spring and fall, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and wind
  • Use artificial tear eye drops if you suffer from inadequate tears
  • Avoid irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes, or environmental toxins
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin A and B supplements
  • Keep windows closed and, if possible, use air conditioning when necessary
  • Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry (they may collect Pollen)
  • Keep your car windows closed during allergy season
  • Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest
  • Run the air conditioning in your house and car
  • Encase mattresses, box springs and pillows in allergy-proof covers
  • Wash sheets and blankets in water heated to at least 130 F (54 C)
  • Vacuum carpets weekly
  • Replace carpeting with laminate flooring or another hard material that won’t collect dust mites and other allergens, especially in your bedroom
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