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Seasonal Allergies Are Awful!

by Beverly Matoney Medically reviewed by Brent Ferrell, MD, Shelby Medical Associates

Welcome Spring! The words bring to mind warm breezes, bright days, and birds singing.
Ah, yes. And pollen.

Budding trees. Lush grass. A rainbow of blossoms. A field of weeds. All producing bushels of pollen that will cause our eyes to itch, our noses to run, and our throat to tickle.

We love spring, but we’re not fond of the seasonal allergies that accompany the warmer days.

What exactly are seasonal allergies?

While there are many compounds that can cause allergic reactions, seasonal allergies typically refer to symptoms triggered by plant pollens. The various plants that appear during each season of the year produce different kinds of pollen. You may react to one or dozens of different plant pollens.

How long do seasonal allergies last?

If you’re lucky, you may only experience symptoms for a few weeks. For those who react to many different kinds of pollen, seasonal allergies can last from early spring through the end of fall. Unfortunately, seasonal allergies can’t be cured, so your allergies will show up year after year.

What is a pollen count?

A pollen count is just that, a measurement of pollen in the air, and often your local weather report will include a count in the day’s forecast. The types of pollen vary from season to season, and the count can vary from day to day. Rain tends to clean the air for a time, but wind can fill the air with pollen to make allergic reactions worse.

tree buds and seasonal allergies
How can I minimize my exposure to pollen?

Keep your windows closed during days when the pollen count is high, and also at night, since that is when some plants release their pollen. Drive with your car windows up, and sorry, no sporting around with the convertible top down.

If you know which pollens affect you, keep an eye on the pollen counts for that plant, and plan to stay in as much as possible during its season. Of course, when life takes you outside, so follow these suggestions to minimize your exposure to the pollens that cause you discomfort.

Pop on a wide-brimmed hat to reduce the amount of pollen that falls down on your head and face. You can wear a mask for chores, such as mowing the lawn or dusting the furniture, that can stir up a lot of pollen. Use allergen-trapping air filters in your home

To reduce your chance of coming into contact with pollen after you’ve been outside, change clothes when you come in, take a shower and wash your hair, and leave your shoes beside the door so you don’t track pollen through the house. And don’t forget that pets can carry in pollen on their fur.

How can I tell the difference between seasonal allergies and a cold?

Colds typically last for a few days to a week or so and are accompanied by a cough and sometimes aches and pains. Seasonal allergies can last for several weeks from spring through fall and are characterized by itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose.

What kinds of treatments are available for seasonal allergies?

For mild symptoms, an over-the-counter antihistamine may alleviate your discomfort, or you may need an added decongestant. Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure your current medication won’t interact with your allergy meds.
You can also use nasal sprays, or rinse your sinuses with a saline solution to try to clear them. Eye drops can help soothe itchy eyes.
You can begin your seasonal allergy medication a couple of weeks before the pollen starts to fly to help ward off your symptoms when it does.
If you have more severe reactions, your doctor may recommend a skin test or a blood test to find out exactly which pollens are causing them. You may need allergy shots or other immunotherapy to counteract your symptoms.

Can seasonal allergies cause other health problems?

If you have asthma, increased pollen counts can trigger an attack. Wear a mask if you know you’ll be outside during a high pollen count day. You can also develop an infection in your sinuses from all of the irritation and inflammation caused by a prolonged allergic reaction to seasonal pollen.

Although we love the spring and all the wonderful things that come with it, we’re not a fan of seasonal allergies. We bet you’re not either.

If you’re having symptoms you can’t seem to relieve with over-the-counter treatments, come visit us at Shelby Medical Associates so we can help you enjoy the season without the suffering.

Take care of you, take care of yours, we’ll be there to help you with both.