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Dealing with seasonal allergies: Causes, treatment options and when you should see a doctor
General Wellness

Dealing with seasonal allergies: Causes, treatment options and when you should see a doctor

By Simon Tesfau, MD, Primary Care Physician
Posted: April 8, 2021

The beginning of spring is usually a welcomed shift in seasonal weather. Cold is gone and warmer temperatures arrive.

While warmer temperatures are nice, spring also marks the beginning of seasonal allergies — or a condition known as chronic allergic rhinitis. 

What are seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis)?

Seasonal allergies are your body’s response to environmental allergens, like pollen for example, that are only present during certain times of the year.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the feelings of itchiness, runny nose, sneezing or watery eyes are actually sparked by inflammation of the mucous membranes in your nose or eyes. Because of this inflammation, the body produces antibodies in response to environmental allergens.

Essentially, your body mistakes the pollen as something harmful and it works to defeat it, and this reaction causes the symptoms listed above.

What causes seasonal allergies?

Common causes of allergies in general are pollens, animal dander, insects and different kinds of mold.

Pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies specifically, making the condition prominent in seasons like spring and fall.

It’s important to know that other allergens, like animal dander or dust mites, could result in some people experiencing allergies year-round.

What are the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are quite common, and knowing the signs and symptoms can help you take proper measures ahead of time and reduce severe reactions to allergens.

Seasonal allergies present with the following symptoms:

Nasal congestion

Sneezing

Runny nose

Post-nasal drip

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How can I reduce the severity and aggravation of seasonal allergies?

Environmental control of allergens can improve the severity of symptoms and reduce the need for medications. These measures include hand washing, using face masks, awareness of peak season and time of day.

Mild seasonal allergies can be treated by reducing exposure to the responsible allergen or avoiding it altogether.

Improving the overall condition may require implementing allergen avoidance measures, pharmacotherapy (treatment by prescribed medication), immunotherapy or a combination of these measures.

If these measures aren’t successful in helping alleviate your seasonal allergy symptoms, you could use antihistamines for initial treatment of mild symptoms.

When should I see a healthcare provider about my allergies?

There are a number of effective medications to treat and improve the symptoms related to seasonal allergies. If reduction to allergen exposure and treatment using over-the-counter medication are not effective to control the symptoms, it would be appropriate to seek evaluation by a provider.