Seasonal Allergies to Anticipate Throughout the Year
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, happen when your immune system wrongly reacts or overreacts to an outdoor allergen, particularly pollen. There are some terms popularly used to refer to these allergies. They include pollen allergy or allergic rhinitis. However, the signs are particular. The allergic reactions occur in one specific season. A report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology notes that about 8% of American experiences this type of allergy.
Seasonal Allergies: Different Types and Causes
As the name suggests, hay fever is related to certain species of plant that release pollen into the air. The powder then triggers allergic reactions in high-risk individuals. The following are some common causes of seasonal allergies about the season of the year:
This is one of the most common airborne allergens. Birch releases pollen during the spring when the trees bloom. The wind then scatters the pollen grains. The pollen grains may travel up to a radius of 100 yards. Other allergenic trees during winter include alder, oak, chestnut, willow, cedar, and poplar tree. Oak pollen is especially interesting. Despite relatively mild allergenic properties, the powder stays in the air longer. As a result, it may cause severe allergic reactions.
In summer months, grass pollen is one of the most common causes of allergic reactions. Grass pollen may cause difficult-to-treat symptoms of seasonal allergies. Individuals prone to allergic should stay away from grasses like timothy grass, ryegrass, Bermuda grass, orchard grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Johnson grass, Sweet vernal grass, and certain weeds that release pollen in summer months.
Fall is also known as ragweed seasons. However, allergy-prone individuals should pay cautions to ragweed plants from the late spring to fall months. The plan pollens are particularly active during these months. The pollen can travel hundreds of miles and stay in the air longer.
There are more than 40 species of ragweed plants, and they most commonly thrive in temperate regions of South and North America. Other plants that should be anticipated during fall months include mugworts, fat hens, nettles, plantains, and sorrels.
In winter months, most of the outdoor allergens are dormant. However, allergy-prone individuals should anticipate indoor allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches. Fortunately, indoor allergens are relatively easier to control than outdoor allergens are.
Seasonal Allergies: Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of seasonal allergies vary, depending upon your immune system. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Nasal congestion
- Cough and scratchy throat
- Itchy watery eyes and noses
- Sinus pressure
- Swollen skin beneath the eyes. The color may be bluish
- Decreased sense of smell and taste
- Asthmatic reactions
As the pollen allergies happen only at a specific season of the year, they are easier to diagnose than other types of allergy are. However, make sure to visit your doctor or an allergist for diagnosis. The doctor will usually check your nose, ear, skin, throat before making a diagnosis. Make sure to tell the doctor your medical history about the symptoms. Accordingly, the doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment.
Seasonal Allergies: Treatment and Prevention
Regardless of the type of allergies, treatment is commonly the same. The most common medications for allergic reactions include:
- Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine and cetirizine. These medications work to counter the effect of histamine – a type of substance that leads to itchy watery eyes and noses.
- Decongestants, such as oxymetazoline and pseudoephedrine. These medications are available in a capsule or spray form. They work to reduce swelling beneath the eyes and reduce sinus discomfort. However, nasal decongestants are not intended for long-term use, since they can make the symptoms even worse.
- Nasal steroids can help in addressing swelling and mucus production. These medications are more effective when combined with antihistamines.
- Immunotherapy or allergy shots may be recommended for patients, who do not respond to over-the-counter medications. They involve a series of injection. Immunotherapy works to modify the response of the immune system to allergens.
The best treatment for hay fever is to avoid allergen exposure. This may be difficult to do since the pollens are airborne. The following tips may help minimize the risk of exposure:
- Stay indoors on windy days, particularly between 5:00 to 10.00 am. The best time to do outdoor activities is late afternoon or after a heavy rain.
- Have others do gardening tasks during the peak seasons
- Close the windows of your home and car during the peak season.
- Wear a dust mask, should you have to do outdoor activities
Prevention and proper control over seasonal allergies are necessary. Severe allergies may lead to more severe problems, such as asthma and sinusitis. Therefore, make sure to minimize your contacts with the allergens.
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