Research estimates that about 35million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, what is also referred to as allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Unlike common cold and fever that could occur at any time of the year, seasonal allergies develop for weeks and months on end at the same time every year.
In most areas of the U.S., these allergies begin in February and last until early summer. Climatic factors also influence the severity of your symptoms. Although seasonal allergies can be disruptive and infuriating, you can lessen their impact by taking the necessary steps.
What Causes Such Allergies?
Allergies develop when the body’s immune system reacts to allergens. This leads to the production of antibodies which in turns results in the release of chemical mediators and histamine in the body. When this happens, one is said to have an allergic reaction. These chemicals are what cause symptoms in the eyes, nose, throat and other areas of the body.
Seasonal allergies are mostly caused by pollen. However, mold and grass could also trigger these allergies.
Seasonal Allergies on the Rise
The severity of allergies seems to be on the rise apart from unique weather conditions. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the number of people suffering from seasonal allergies has increased over the past ten years. With 16% of U.S. adults are estimated to have allergies, the healthcare system is expected spends about $18 billion annually.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture asserts that climate change has been contributing to extended allergy seasons. The rise in carbon dioxide levels allows things like poison ivy, ragweed, and fungal spores to thrive.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
- Watery and itchy eyes
- A running nose
- Scratchy throat
- Decreased focus and concentration
- Decreased focus and concnetration
- Frequent sneezing mostly associated with a clogged nose.
While the CDC asserts that allergies can’t generally be prevented, there are different ways to deal with allergic reactions.
Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Allergies
• Find Out if you have a Cold or Allergic Rhinitis
The change in weather can make it difficult to tell if you have a cold or an allergic reaction. If your allergies are not accompanied by aches and fever, you may be suffering from seasonal allergies. Also, if your mucus is thin and clear, congestion lasts for more than two weeks, and your nose and eyes are itchy are some clues that indicate you may be suffering from an allergic reaction.
• Act Early
Start using a prescription nasal steroid spray if pollen count levels in your area are high for three days in a row. It’s difficult to get relieved when symptoms start and inflammation sets in. The steroids in the spray block the chemicals that cause allergy complaints like congestion and nasal swelling. Do not be tempted to stop the meds because you think they are not working. The meds take a while to kick in. It’s best to begin treatment even if you feel fine.
• Keep Indoor Air Clean
Although there is no product that you can use to eliminate all allergens in your home, there are various ways you can keep the air in your home clean. You can use a dehumidifier to keep the air dry. Ensure that all the filters in your air conditioner are changed after every three months. Use a HEPA filter in your bedroom and keep all the floors clean with a vacuum cleaner. Also, you can replace carpets with laminate or wood flooring.
• Minimize Your Exposure to Allergy Triggers
Certain things may trigger your allergy symptoms. If possible, wear a pollen mask when doing chores outside and avoid hanging laundry outside where pollen can stick. Gardening chores like weed pulling and lawn mowing should be delegated to avoid exposure to pollen. Avoid going outside on dry, windy days. Change your clothes when you get home and take a shower to rinse pollen from your hair and skin.
Also, avoid exercising outdoors where pollen is concentrated, like the parks. You can opt to go to the beach where pollen counts are low. Remember to stay away from heavily polluted areas and places with traffic congestion.
These measures can protect the body from allergic rhinitis. Nevertheless, it’s close to impossible to avoid exposure to allergens especially if you experience severe reactions to pollen. The alternative may be to take medication.
Medical Treatments Available
Types of Medications
Nasal Spray – Nasal sprays coat your nasal passages and protect them from irritation. However, sprays need to be used before symptoms show for them to work.
Allergy Pills – You can now find allergy pills that clear your symptoms and not leave you feeling drowsy and non-functional. Moreover, you don’t need a prescription for most allergy pills.
Antihistamines – Antihistamines neutralize the histamines produced when allergens irritate your immune system.
1. Zyrtec – This family friendly brand offers many types of medications, ranging from dissolving tabs, liquid gels, and tablets for adults and dissolving tablets and syrup for children. This trusted brand offers relief anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending upon the type of medication used. Zyrtec has an easy-to-use site that provides a host of great tools, such as links to allergy forecasts, general health information, and discounts on products. Adult medications can range from $15-30, depending on the retailer and specific product purchased. For children, dissolving tabs range from $10-25 and syrup $13-28, all depending on the retailer. The official site has printable $4 off coupons that can be used for both adult and children’s medications.
2. Claritin – Claritin is another popular brand for lasting, non-drowsy allergy relief. People can expect to experience relief from allergy symptoms for 12 to 24 hours, depending upon the specific product. Prices vary: From WalMart, 30 tablets for adults will cost around $19 and 2 oz of grape-flavored, 24-hour relief syrup for children around $6. This brand also provides discounts on their website, including a printable $3 off coupon. Signing up for their brand-specific program can earn discounts of up to $12; they also offer $10 rebates through the mail.
3. Allegra – This brand claims prescription-strength relief from allergy symptoms for 12 to 24 hours, depending on the product. Relief can come as quickly as an hour for the first dose. Prices vary depending on the product an vendor. 30 tablets of Allegra for adults costs around $18 from WalMart, for example. 24 tablets of Children’s Allegra (12-hour strength) also costs roughly $18 from WalMart. The official site offers $4 off printable coupons.
You can learn to manage your symptoms with natural alternatives. Some of the options available include:
- Eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids daily.
- Incorporating turmeric into your food when possible
- Consume lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts
- Eat raw honey
Seasonal allergies can be stressful particularly if you experience severe symptoms. The best thing is that you can use the above tips to alleviate these symptoms. While there is no cure for allergic rhinitis, you can minimize your exposure to pollen by staying indoors, eating right, and using medication.