Millions of people around the world suffer from seasonal allergies (also known as hay fever). These allergies usually occur in specific periods of the year.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
There are several known natural allergens that trigger seasonal allergies. Some of the most common ones include pollen, mold, and grass.
The pollen from the ragweed plant is one of the most widespread allergens. Ragweed is a naturally growing plant that is basically found everywhere and thought to have originated from the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. The pollen is dispersed by wind and can travel for hundreds of miles.
Other weeds known to carry pollen allergens include:
- Pigweed (Amaranthis palmeri)
- Cocklebur (Xanthium)
- Russian thistle (Echinops exaltatus)
- Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
- Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album)
- Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate)
- Tumbleweed (Salsola tragus)
Some of the grasses known to be notorious allergy triggers include:
- Timothy grass (Phleum pratense)
- Orchard grass (Calopogon tuberosus)
- Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactyloon)
- Red top grass (Agrostis gigantean)
- Sweet vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)
- Bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
Mold, pollen, and grass are not the only triggers of seasonal allergies. There are several other factors linked to seasonal allergies including:
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Christmas trees (wreaths and pine trees)
- Smoke emanating from summer campfires or fireplaces in winter
- Smog from air pollution, particularly in large towns and cities
- Fresh vegetables, tree nuts, and fruits
- Insect stings and bites which are most common in spring
When Is Allergy Season and How Long Does Allergy Season Last?
Seasonal allergies are usually recorded in three main seasons of the year – spring, summer, and fall. As a result, there are three types of allergies – spring allergies, summer allergies and fall allergies.
Spring allergies are the most common seasonal allergies since pollen count is high during this period. Summer allergies are triggered by allergens such as pollen from summer grasses and weeds, dust, and smoke from campfires. Fall allergies are usually triggered by mold spores which thrive in the warm and humid conditions.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Different people have different allergy reactions. Nonetheless, some of the most of the common symptoms include:
- Nasal blockage, coughing and heavy breathing (This symptom can be mild or severe)
- Increased redness, itchiness, puffiness, and wateriness of the eyes
- A runny or stuffy nose with post-nasal dripping and loss of smell
- Headaches, ear pain, and throat irritation
- Itchy skin rashes
- Intensive sneezing that can last several days.
You should visit your allergist should as soon as you notice these symptoms.
Treating Seasonal Allergies
Before you know how to treat allergies, it’s important to understand what happens when allergens are introduced into your body. Once an allergen enters your body, your immune system will release a chemical known as histamine to counter the allergen.
Antihistamines are the go-to remedies for most allergies because they block the histamine chemical, relieving you of your body’s allergic reaction.
Other treatments may come in form of nasal sprays, pills, eye drops, injections, inhalers, skin creams, and liquids.
It is necessary to note that some side-effects of antihistamines are fatigue and drowsiness. It is, therefore, wise not to take the medication when engaging in activities which strictly require alertness.
Moreover, it is recommended that you see your doctor as opposed to diagnosing yourself.
Avoiding Seasonal Allergies
Avoiding the allergens that trigger season allergies might be a difficult task, especially if you want to explore the great outdoors during spring or summer. But it’s not impossible – all you need to know is the type of allergens that affect you.
Some tips that can minimize the severity of your allergies include:
- Avoid areas with high humidity and temperature – these conditions encourage the growth of mold.
- Stay indoors in the morning hours since pollen levels are highest during this time of the day.
- Avoid the outdoors during windy warm days, as pollen counts increase during such days. Days with no wind have the lowest pollen counts and are the safest to spend outdoors.
- If you do spend time outdoors, make sure to take a shower, thoroughly clean your hair, and change your clothes.
- While rain suppresses the amount of pollen in the air, the pollen count surges immediately the rains stop. It is, therefore, advisable not to stay outdoors during and after the rains.
- Avoid allergens from getting into your home and car by keeping all the doors and windows shut during your allergy season.
- When indoors, try to keep smoke levels emanating from the fireplace at a minimum.
- Keep updating yourself with information on mold and pollen counts in your locality. This is usually available in local newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasts during the allergy season.
- Avoid traveling to regions with heavy air pollution.
Before utilizing these tips, visit your allergist. They’ll help you identify the allergens that trigger hay fever symptoms.