Seasonal Allergies Symptoms and Treatments

Affecting tens of millions of Americans, seasonal allergies are one of the most common nuisances in the world. Whereas normal allergies are predictable and constant, seasonal allergies come and go with the months.

 

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Oftentimes, seasonal allergies develop spontaneously in an individual who previously showed no sensitivity to the allergen. This can be extremely perplexing at first, and it may take some time to isolate and identify the allergen before the patient realizes it is not a cold or something similar.

An allergen is, by definition, any substance that can cause an allergy. Most individuals have Immunoglobulin E responses only to parasitic infections. In those with allergies, however, any number of common substances can cause such a reaction. The level of sensitivity and the specific allergen tend to vary widely from one person to another.

Why Seasonal?

Typically, seasonal allergies only occur during a specific part of the year because that is when the allergen presents itself. Most commonly, the allergen is the pollen of a specific tree or grass. Trees such as oak, maple and elm pollinate in the spring whilst Bermuda grass, orchard and timothy all pollinate in the summer.

Seasonal Allergies: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Common symptoms of seasonal allergies are runny eyes, itching, coughing, watery nose, and a “tickle” in the mouth or throat. In strong cases coughing and wheezing may be experienced. In a small minority of seasonal allergies, the patient may feel depressed, nauseas, or have trouble sleeping.

The easiest way to differentiate allergies from a cold is that there is no fever or muscle ache, the runoff from the nose is clear, sneezes occur in sequences of two or more, and parts of the face are consistently itchy. These symptoms generally last for a week or longer.

If both parents suffer from seasonal allergies, there is a better than two-thirds chance that the individual will experience them. If only one parent had seasonal allergies, the risk drops to below 60%.

Both a blood test and a skin test are available to diagnose seasonal allergies. Each test is capable of diagnosing the cause of the symptoms with near absolute certainty almost immediately.

Seasonal Allergies: Treatment

There are a variety of treatments available for season allergies, many of which also treat chronic allergies. Over the counter medications are perhaps the most commonly used treatment, whilst nasal decongestants, antihistamines, and even allergy shots have also been proven effective.

When the symptoms are primarily nasal in nature, antihistamines are considered the best option. If they do not solve the problem on their own, they can be combined with pseudoephedrine to help relieve a congested nose or halt sneezing.

Over the counter medications such as Benadryl tend to work quite well but may cause drowsiness. Recently, non-drowsy variations have entered the market.

For those experiencing extreme allergy symptoms, allergy shots (immunotherapy) are also available. This treatment is generally reserved for those who tend to have strong reactions to allergy medications or particularly unmanageable symptoms. These shots are usually administered by a doctor or other licensed medical professional, and they are good until the following allergy season.

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