What are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies are allergies that result from seasonal pollens that occur at specific times of the year – most commonly during spring, summer and fall. While most of us may look forward to spring or fall, allergy sufferers dread the arrival of these seasons.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
This condition is caused by an overactive immune system that responds to the allergen – usually the pollens. In the eastern, southern, and Midwestern United States, spring pollens usually come from trees (oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper, and olive). In the early summer, pollens come from grasses (bluegrasses, timothy, redtop, and orchard grass).
In the late summer, pollens come from ragweed. Seasonal allergy is also caused by mold spores, which can be airborne for long periods of time during the spring, summer, and fall. Allergic conjunctivitis (a condition of the eye) may result when airborne substances, such as pollens, contact the eyes directly.
Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Itching of the nose, roof of the mouth, back of the throat, and eyes
- Running nose (producing a clear watery discharge or blocked ‘stuffy’ nose
- Sneezing fits
- Red eyes and swollen eyelids (allergic conjunctivitis)
- Dry itchy eyes
- Wheezing (mild asthma)
Rare symptoms may also include: depression, loss of appetite and insomnia. Allergy sufferers may also commonly experience eczema and asthma as well as rashes when they have bouts of seasonal allergies.
Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies
The diagnosis of season allergies is based on the time frame (when the allergy occurs). Nasal discharge may be examined to see if it contains a type of white blood cell produced in large numbers as a result of an allergic reaction. Skin tests (the skin is lightly scratched and a concentrate of the allergen is dropped onto the skin) can help confirm the diagnosis and the identity of the allergen.
Help for Seasonal Allergies
There are various conventional medications (such as nasal sprays, allergy shots and antihistamine drugs) to control the symptoms of allergies, however, they are not necessarily effective in the long term. Antihistamines and decongestants are also commonly prescribed – but may come with side effects – people with high blood pressure for example, should not take a decongestant unless they are monitored.
Decongestant nose drops or sprays and eye-drops should be temporary – as continual use for a week or more may worsen nasal congestion. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may also be prescribed – but they can cause nosebleeds and a sore nose. Strong allergy medication can also cause drowsiness, and sever side effects – so caution is advised.
Natural treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies can help to address seasonal allergies without the risk of side effects or addiction. Ingredients such as Arsen iod and Euphrasia (also known as Eyebright) are well known for their ability to support the eyes during times of irritation and discomfort.
Homeopathic ingredients such as Allium cepa and Wyethia can be used for the treatment of profuse, watery eyes with itchiness. Itching, irritable throats would benefit from Kali bich while Sambucus is the natural choice to help with sneezing, a running red nose and hot cheeks.