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Your Guide to Allergy Season

Take control of your health this allergy season by learning about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for seasonal allergies.

Are you suffering from the sniffles or getting irritated by nonstop itchiness? Seasonal allergies, sometimes called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can be a nuisance for kids and adults alike. Scientists estimate that up to 30 percent of the global population is impacted by common seasonal allergies, with a further 300 million suffering from asthma triggered by allergy symptoms.[1] Understanding the causes of seasonal allergies and their impact on overall wellness is the first step towards finding relief and getting back to a healthy home and lifestyle.

When Is Allergy Season?

Believe it or not, there’s no “one” allergy season. In fact, seasonal allergies can occur year-round, especially in the spring, summer, and fall. Tree pollen, grass pollen, and ragweed pollen are common culprits of seasonal allergies.[2]

In North America, allergies typically begin to peak in the spring as trees and flowers release pollen into the air. Although pollen is crucial to help plants reproduce, it can also trigger allergic reactions.[3] As spring turns to summer, other grasses and weeds can cause allergies, such as nettle and mugwort. Unfortunately, research suggests that allergy seasons might be growing longer as the global climate shifts.[4]

Common Allergy Season Symptoms

Seasonal allergy symptoms can occur at certain times of the year when common irritants like pollen are released into the air by germinating plants. Your immune system reacts to the allergens by releasing chemicals like histamine into the bloodstream to help combat them. This influx of histamine can cause common allergy symptoms.[5]

The most common seasonal allergy symptoms[6] are:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • Cough
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy nose or throat
  • Fatigue

Seasonal Allergies and Your Health

While seasonal allergy symptoms are typically mild, other conditions can increase your risk of hay fever or the severity of symptoms. For instance, asthma and eczema are associated with increased onset of allergy symptoms.[7]

For most people, mild seasonal allergies aren’t cause for concern. However, they can lead to other health issues. For instance:

  • Poor sleep quality. Allergies like hay fever can make falling and staying asleep hard, reducing your sleep quality. As a result, you might feel more fatigued or irritable throughout the day. Chronic sleep deprivation has several serious and negative health consequences, ranging from increased blood pressure to impaired attention span.
  • Decreased productivity. As a result of poor sleep quality caused by nasal congestion, people often experience decreased productivity at work or school and reduced quality of life.[8] Even if your allergies don’t impact your sleep quality, they can still be distracting and unpleasant to deal with during the day.
  • Experiencing prolonged congestions can increase the risk of sinusitis, a chronic inflammation of the nasal membranes.[9]

How to Relieve Seasonal Allergies

The good news for seasonal allergy sufferers is that there are many accessible and effective options to help prevent, manage, and relieve seasonal allergy symptoms
  • Use an air purifier. Air purifiers can be a great way to limit your exposure to seasonal allergies by keeping your indoor air clean and irritant-free. To effectively combat allergies, look for an air purifier that uses a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to capture and trap air pollutants. Research shows that air purifiers can help relieve allergy symptoms when used in small, enclosed spaces.[10] However, be mindful that many people may still suffer from allergy symptoms since allergens can enter homes through open windows and doors.
  • Limit exposure. One important way to avoid the worst of allergy symptoms is to limit your exposure. While it’s not always possible to avoid going outside, it can be a good idea to avoid the outdoors on windy days where pollen circulates through the air more freely. If you have to go outside on high-allergy days, you could consider wearing a mask to help filter the air. Additionally, avoiding specific activities such as mowing the lawn or gardening—if only temporarily—can help limit exposure to common allergens and reduce immediate discomfort.
  • Try at-home remedies. There are a number of common over-the-counter drugs that can be used to reduce the severity of allergies. For most, simply managing the symptoms of allergies is the best option since there are no cures for allergies. Allergy symptoms can often be treated with over-the-counter medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids. In moderation, these medicines can be a good way to manage your symptoms during night-time to help you get a full night’s sleep. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medications.
  • Talk to a doctor. If your seasonal allergies are seriously impacting the quality of your life, it may be time to see an expert. A doctor can help determine what your specific allergies are via testing and identify the right medication to help manage your symptoms.

While allergies might feel unavoidable, it’s important to find ways to prevent, manage, and treat symptoms. Your health matters, and you deserve to wake up every day feeling healthy and energized. With information and tips for managing symptoms, allergies don’t have to stand in the way of a healthy, safe, fulfilling lifestyle.

FAQs

What months do seasonal allergies happen?

Allergies typically begin impacting most people in the early spring, starting in February, all the way through early summer. However, this will vary depending on the environment you live in. For example, those who live in northern areas with harsh winters may experience allergy symptoms later, since plants don’t germinate as early.

What are the symptoms of allergy season?

The most common seasonal allergy symptoms are:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • Cough
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy nose or throat
  • Fatigue
What types of allergies are seasonal?

Seasonal allergies are allergies that are triggered by specific seasonal events, such as trees, grasses, and weeds releasing their pollen. Most people don’t suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms year-round, although new research is showing that the length of allergy season may be increasing.

[1] https://www.worldallergy.org/UserFiles/file/WAO-White-Book-on-Allergy_web.pdf

[2] https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/seasonal-allergies/

[3] https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/

[4] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/pollen-seasons-are-getting-longer-driven-by-climate-change/

[5] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20373039

[6] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/seasonal-allergies-at-a-glance

[7] https://bmcdermatol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-5945-12-11

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15536445/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4368058/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4829390/