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Spring allergies, seasonal allergies, hay fever… these are just a few of the different ways that we refer to the allergic reactions and symptoms that many of us experience during the spring. According to the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology, allergic rhinitis (the medical term for these conditions) is something that roughly eight percent of Americans experience. So, if you start to experience a stuffy nose, itchy eyes or other symptoms from March onwards, you’re far from alone. While seasonal allergies can’t necessarily be “cured”, the good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize the symptoms you experience. Here’s some more information on the subject that should help!
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
When you suffer from an allergy of any kind, your body reacts negatively to a specific substance. In the case of seasonal allergies, it’s highly likely that this substance is pollen. Pollen is a fine powder that is released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. The types of pollen that tends to cause the most reactions tend to be from wind-pollinated plants, including trees, grasses and weeds. When breathed in, this pollen can result in symptoms amongst those who are allergic to it. These include, but are not limited to:
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above during the Spring - particularly during times when plants and trees are releasing their pollen - chances are you suffer from seasonal allergies. If you want confirmation of this, you can always visit your doctor for a professional diagnosis. During your visit, they may carry out an examination of your eyes, nose and throat. Generally speaking, allergy testing won’t be used, as the treatment for all pollens tends to be the same.
Reducing Your Symptoms
If you experience seasonal allergies, unfortunately, you are likely to face them every year. After all, plants and trees will release their pollen and there’s not really all too much we can do about that. But there are a few steps you can take to minimise your symptoms. Here are a few to take into consideration.
There are a number of different types of medicine (both prescription and over the counter) that can be used to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. If you haven’t visited your doctor or pharmacist about your allergies, it’s worth checking in and asking for some recommendations. Some of the most commonly prescribed or recommended medications include:
1. Antihistamines - these are available in a variety of forms, ranging from pills to nasal sprays and eye drops. Antihistamines block the release of histamine, which causes the unpleasant symptoms associated with a mild allergic reaction. Use of antihistamines can reduce symptoms such as eyes, sneezing and runny noses. They are not so effective at tackling symptoms like congestion and blocked sinuses.
2. Nasal Corticosteroids - these generally come in the form of a nasal spray. They are effective at treating a blocked nose, runny nose or nasal itching.
3. Decongestants - these are ideal for tackling congestion. Most decongestants are generally available without a prescription and will generally take the form of tablets, sprays or prescription liquids. Just make sure that you use decongestants for no longer than three days in a row.
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many plants and foods, including apples, onions, berries, herbs and tea. It can also be found in a quercetin supplement. It can act as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals, and is also thought to hold antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some of the most effective ways to avoid seasonal allergy symptoms can be to make changes to your lifestyle that reduce your contact with allergens. If possible, spend as much time indoors during periods when plants and trees are releasing pollen. Most weather forecasts will include a pollen count that can provide you with the information you need to do this. During these times, it’s also advisable that you dry your clothes indoors rather than hanging them out to dry. This prevents your clothes from getting covered in pollen and then coming into contact with you and your skin.
If you are really struggling with seasonal allergy symptoms, and you find that you still experience symptoms in spite of trying out the above tips and tricks, you may want to talk to your doctor about immunotherapy treatment. Immunotherapy sees healthcare professionals slowly expose you to pollen in a monitored and controlled environment. This may be through injecting pollen allergens into your skin or placing a dissolvable tablet containing pollen allergens under your tongue. This exposure can sometimes encourage your body to become immune to the allergen.
Hopefully some of this information can help you or can be passed on to anyone you know who suffers from seasonal allergies. As we step into spring, some of the tips and tricks can prove particularly useful!
Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Leave a comment below to let us know the top tips and tricks that help with your symptoms!