Ah, April. It’s the time of year when New England wakes from its long winter slumber; when flowers begin to bloom and the temperature rises. For the estimated 36 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, April can also be characterized by watery eyes and nasal congestion with every walk outside. Seasonal allergies may be relatively common, but that doesn’t make them any less disruptive to daily life.
Think you may be suffering from spring’s allergies? Here’s what you need to know.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies occur due to the reemergence of a substance that appears for short periods of time each year—pollen, trees, weeds and grasses, are examples. Fortunately, allergy to these and other seasonal culprits tends to create only mild-to-moderate symptoms in children and adults. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system recognizes the presence of a substance it perceives to be harmful. In most cases, substances which trigger severe allergic reactions are generally harmless (eggs, bee stings, peanuts etc.), though the body’s response can lead to major complications including anaphylaxis.
While pet dander and dust mites are often lumped together with seasonal allergies, these substances can actually be present year-round, as can many types of mold.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
The substances which cause allergic reactions in certain people are perceived by the immune system as being threatening, even though most are well tolerated by the non-allergic. Allergies can exist in many forms, including those to animals, insects, food, medications and certain chemicals. With seasonal allergies, however, pollen and grains most commonly cause issues, resulting in allergic rhinitis—commonly referred to as “Hay Fever.”
Most people who experience symptoms of seasonal allergies find relief when changes in the weather occur, although some may experience allergies to different substances throughout the year as the seasons progress.
Seasonal Allergies vs. the Common Cold
It can sometimes be easy to mistake symptoms of the common cold and allergies for each other. Though a runny, stuffy nose is a hallmark symptom of both, that’s just about where the similarities end. Colds tend to start with sore throats and develop into coughs, typically limiting themselves to between 3-14 days. With allergies, however, itchy, watery eyes with clear runny nose and sneezing tend to be the dominant annoyance, and episodes can last for weeks or months at a time before symptoms begin to subside.
If you’re unsure whether it’s a cold or allergies (or if you’ve been sick for more than a week), medical attention should be sought to gain a proper diagnosis.
Seasonal allergies can range in severity from one person to another, though symptoms tend to be common across the board. These may include any or all of the following:
- Runny Nose
- Itchy, Watery Eyes
- Nasal Congestion
- Sinus Pressure
- Full Sensation in Ears
Hives/rash may also occur as a result of seasonal allergies, in which case medical attention should be sought immediately.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to cure seasonal allergies in either children or adults. Allergies can be treated, however, with the following being just a few methods of defense:
- Avoiding the allergen and reducing exposure (which can be very difficult when pollen is out in full force).
- Rinsing the nasal passages gently with a saline solution to help keep them clean.
- Medicating with decongestants and antihistamines for symptom relief either by mouth or nasal sprays
Approximately 80% of children who have asthma also suffer from allergies, which can feed off of one another and result in asthma attacks. Children with known severe allergies may be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector to prevent against complications such as anaphylaxis. Check with your treating provider to find out whether or not medications such as antihistamines, nasal sprays and decongestants are safe for use in treating your child’s seasonal allergy symptoms.
Dealing with Seasonal Allergies? Visit ConvenientMD Today!
At ConvenientMD, we know that seasonal allergies aren’t just a mere annoyance and can be enough to make even the simplest of daily tasks seem like major hurdles. Don’t suffer through allergy symptoms unnecessarily—stop into any of our ConvenientMD locations to get treated today. We’ll have you feeling better and out the door in no time!