Spring is in the air, and allergy sufferers are some of the first to know it. As the spring allergy season begins again, many start to experience the symptoms of the season. Spring visits to allergists increase, as sufferers emerge from a winter respite.
Allergies are common in the spring because trees, grasses, weeds, and flowers begin releasing pollen to be carried in the air. Spring allergy sufferers experience a variety of symptoms as the pollen count increases, such as stuffy nose, frequent sneezing, watering eyes, nasal congestion, and more. These are often symptoms of allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), one of the most common allergies. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI), allergies including allergic rhinitis impact more than 50 million Americans every year—seasonal allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States.
People who suffer from seasonal allergies need not be completely miserable, though. For instance, those diagnosed with allergic rhinitis can get treatment. Treatment options include avoidance of allergens to eliminate or at least decrease exposure to things that trigger allergic symptoms, as well as medication and immunotherapy (usually as allergy shots).
Some ways to decrease exposure to allergy triggers are to stay indoors, especially on dry, windy days when more allergens are airborne; to remove as much clothing worn outside before entering the main part of the home; and to keep doors and windows closed at night or any other time when pollen counts are high. For those who suffer greatly, it is important to check pollen forecasts before going outdoors and to avoid outdoor activities from hiking to yard work and gardening whenever pollen counts are predicted to be at a level that will trigger allergy symptoms. Prescription medication and immunotherapy also can be used to effectively treat seasonal allergies for those who still suffer regardless of avoidance methods and don’t get relief from the over-the-counter medications.
Testing is key if you suffer from seasonal allergies. A trained allergy specialist can give you an exam to test your immune response to different substances, to determine if they cause an allergic reaction. Testing for seasonal allergies is done using skin tests or blood tests. Once your doctor has completed your allergy testing and determined which allergens are responsible for your symptoms, he or she will be able to work with you to create a treatment plan specific to your needs.
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