Pollen levels have been at an all-time high this Spring season. Do you experience the effects of seasonal allergies, such as sneezing and itching? Learn how to recognize seasonal allergies over viruses and common colds and find out what you can do to ease your symptoms!
An allergy or hay fever, affects about 8% of Americans - according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to an outdoor allergen, such as pollen. An allergen is something that triggers an allergic response. The most common allergens are pollens from wind-pollenated plants, such as trees, grasses, and weeds. (source: Healthline) What are the most common symptoms of hay fever or seasonal allergies?
How can you tell if you are suffering from allergies, the flu or a summer cold? Allergy symptoms generally last much longer than cold or flu symptoms. A fever is more common with a cold or flu, whereas prominent sneezing is more common with allergies. When dealing with allergies, itchy eyes are very common, as well as clear, thin mucus. You know you are infected with a virus when your mucus is thicker and more yellow in color.
- Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy).
- Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
- Nasal spray. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms and doesn't have serious side effects, though it's most effective when you begin using it before your symptoms start.
- Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D). (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Finding relief from Spring allergies can sometimes feel like a daunting task. For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies still bother you, there are many more options for you to try. Consult your doctor; skin or blood tests can help determine exactly what you are allergic to. You can also get allergy shots! This is known as desensitization; this treatment involves regular injections containing tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies. Allergies can be a nuisance, but there are treatments available to help alleviate or least lessen your symptoms.