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What Are Typical Seasonal Allergy Symptoms? Managing Allergies

Medically Reviewed on 12/3/2021

Typical seasonal allergy symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, congestion, and a sore throat.

Every year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies caused by pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Most people are likely to be bothered by allergy symptoms in the spring and early summer.

Seasonal allergies primarily impact:

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Nose
  • Sinuses
  • Mouth
  • Skin

However, not everyone will experience all the symptoms. Typical or classic symptoms may include:

  • An itchy feeling in the roof of the mouth
  • Hives
  • Watery eyes
  • Persistent cough
  • Sore throat

However, some can mimic signs of infection, such as:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Ear congestion
  • Sinus congestion and pain

If these symptoms persist for more than a week or two, a person may be reacting to seasonal irritants. These irritants differ in every person.

Other common signs and symptoms include:

  • Body aches
  • Difficulty or painful breathing
  • Eye redness or itchiness
  • Fever or chills
  • New rashes
  • Wheezing
  • Lack of energy
  • Chest tightness
  • Blue-colored, swollen undereye skin
  • Postnasal drip

Pay attention to the body, and watch for severe allergy symptoms, such as:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Flushed skin
  • Hives and rash
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Abnormal pulse
  • Swelling of the face, lips, or throat
  • Trouble talking or swallowing

What causes allergies in one person may not cause them in another. They can change depending on the season. Knowing when the symptoms are the worst can help figure out what a person might be allergic to.

What is a seasonal allergy?

An allergy is an exaggerated reaction of the immune system to something in the environment. Seasonal allergies are more common during certain times of the year when irritants or allergens, such as plant pollen, are in greater volume in the environment.

Seasonal allergies also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system recognizes something in the environment as harmful, prompting the immune system to produce antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) that remain on the lookout for that substance.

When a person is exposed to the substance again, the antibodies attack the “invader” by releasing immune system chemicals, such as histamine, which causes allergy symptoms. Depending on the seasons, the causes of seasonal allergies vary.

Spring

Tree pollens are a primary source of springtime allergies, and may include these trees:

  • Alder
  • Birch
  • Cedar
  • Horse chestnut
  • Oak Poplar
  • Willow
  • Grass pollens are an issue in many states

The springtime allergy season runs from late February into summer.

Summer

During summer months, grass pollens are the dominant allergen, which may include:

  • Timothy
  • Rye
  • Bermuda
  • Redtop
  • Orchard grasses
  • Several weed species
  • Bluegrass is a major offender (It has the highest pollen counts of any grass type.)

Fall

The leading source of fall allergies is ragweed. Other autumn allergen-producers include:

  • Plants pigweed
  • Lamb’s-quarters
  • Cocklebur
  • Burning bus
  • Mugwort
  • Sorrel pollens and mold contribute during July to October

Winter

Wintertime allergies tend to originate indoors. Cold-weather allergens include:

  • Molds
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroach sheddings

While the timing and amount of pollen released can vary, the weather can also affect the level of exposure.

Pollens from trees, grasses, and ragweed spread more easily during dry, warm days and cool nights, whereas mold grows quickly in areas with frequent rain and high humidity. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid airborne allergens because they exist in all environments where plants grow.

QUESTION

Allergies can best be described as:
See Answer

How to manage seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergy is an abnormal (hypersensitive) immune system reaction. Without task-specific treatment to reduce sensitivity, it could last a patient’s entire life.

Effective allergy treatment by family doctors or allergy and immunology specialists could significantly reduce the severity of symptoms. It is possible to reduce sensitivity and alter the course of the disease.

Inhale steam

This simple trick will help relieve a stuffy nose and make breathing easier.

  • Hold the head above a warm bowl or sink filled with water and cover the head with a towel to keep the steam trapped.

Medication

Various medications can alleviate allergic symptoms and may include:

  • Antihistaminic medications: Allergic symptoms, such as mucus and lacrimation, are greatly reduced. This treatment is typically administered in the form of a pill or syrup to be taken daily. 
  • Nasal spray: It contains trace amounts of steroids, which help reduce nasal inflammation.
  • Eye drops: When the eyes are red and itchy, it is recommended to use an antihistamine eye drop to help prevent watery eyes and redness.
  • Intranasal corticosteroid nasal sprays (INCS): They can help with allergies ranging from mild to severe. A prescription could be required for higher doses.
  • Combination therapies (INCS and antihistamine): They are used to treat moderate to severe allergic rhinitis and combine the advantages of both medications.
  • Adrenaline (epinephrine): In the event of an emergency, this first-aid is used to treat life-threatening severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). In an emergency, an adrenaline auto-injector is commonly used to provide adrenaline.

Immunotherapy (allergy vaccinations)

  • The allergy-triggering allergens are gradually injected in increasing doses as part of these vaccinations.
  • This is a treatment that is given over a period, during which patients develop passivity toward that antigen.
  • The treatment has a very high success rate (80 to 90 percent) and is the only treatment capable of reducing “allergic sensitivity” by confronting the illness itself, thereby reducing the need for ongoing medical treatments.

The best way to avoid allergy symptoms is to avoid or limit allergens. Avoidance, however, necessitates identifying the source of the allergy and taking steps to reduce exposure to the allergen.

Consult a professional and devise a strategy to help manage the symptoms more effectively.

Medically Reviewed on 12/3/2021

References

Image Source: iStock Images

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Seasonal Allergies. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/seasonal-allergies/

Katella K. Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year—Why and What You Can Do About It. Yale Medicine. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/seasonal-allergies

Patterson A. Seasonal Allergies: A Month-by-Month Guide. Blanchard Valley Health System. https://www.bvhealthsystem.org/expert-health-articles/seasonal-allergies-a-month-by-month-guide

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