What are seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are one type of allergic rhinitis. If you recall our chapter on allergic rhinitis you know that it is a type of allergy where breathing in an allergen becomes the source of an inflammatory reaction in the membranes of the nose. With this seasonal allergy, inflammation happens only during a particular period. This is most likely caused by molds, pollens, or other substances that are in the air during specific seasons.

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If one becomes afflicted with allergies only during definite seasons of the year, or if they become aggravated during those times, you might be suffering seasonal allergies.

Common Allergens
A wide array of substances can pose the risk of becoming respiratory allergens. It would be hard to discover the specific allergen that produces one’s symptoms. Common cursors for seasonal allergies are fungus or mold and pollen.

Pollen
Pollen grains are common causes triggering seasonal allergic episodes. Pollen from ragweed is the more usual allergens responsible for almost 3/4 (or 75%) of such allergy cases. However, pollen from any grass or tree can trigger allergic symptoms.

Pollen sources and counts in each area change with location, general weather conditions, and the kind of plants present. For example, in Northern America, pollen allergies generally follow this schedule of early to mid-spring for tree pollen; somewhere late in spring towards early on in summer, grass pollen abound; while the season for weed pollen falls around autumn.

Molds
Small bits of molds and their spores bear allergens that are hard to avoid since they are present anywhere.

Most molds grow on decomposing plant matter but may also be present on living plants. Reaping ones harvests and disturbing the soil releases molds. Varieties of molds free spores whether the air is dry or has moist.

Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:

· Bouts of sneezing
· Itchy nose
· Watery eyes
· Itchy palate and throat
· Nasal congestion
· Runny nose
· Ear popping and fullness
· Sensations of pressure on cheeks and forehead

Avoiding Allergen Exposure
Learning how to avoid exposure to specific allergens goes a long way in bringing comfort and relief from allergy symptoms. It also reduces the symptoms and improves tolerance to unavoidable allergens carried in the air.

If you know which substances are causing your allergies, there are measures you can take to reduce exposure. As pollen and mold are the most common seasonal allergens, you should know how to minimize contact with these.

Avoiding Pollen
Generally, pollen counts are highest during early morning hours (5 to 10 am.). Wearing a dust mask during lawn and garden work will help. Planning outdoor activities like camping around seasons with high pollen count will also help.

Taking frequent showers or baths to remove pollen from hair and skin reduces pollen exposure after activities outdoors. Showering before bed will also help keep contaminants out of your bedding.

Keeping windows and doors closed reduces indoor exposure to pollen. Circulating air with window or attic fans is not recommended since it will increase indoor pollen levels. Installing air conditioning in the house and car may relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.

Avoid hanging items out to dry, as pollen can cling to these, which may be brought into your home.

Avoiding Mold

Working on a farm or just in the garden will bring you in contact with molds, while activities such as mowing, threshing, or working with compost causes the highest mold levels.

Sensitive persons should wear facemasks that are tight enough to limit air infiltration around the edges. As with pollen, it is helpful to stay inside when mold count is high, such as when the lawn is freshly mown.

Molds also grow indoors and are found in carpeting, bedding, and upholstered furniture. Basements and bathrooms are common mold areas, but they can also be found in houseplants and in anything that is stored, but has some level of humidity.

You can prevent mold growth by eliminating its conditions. Look out for damp areas, like drains, crawl spaces, or basements, and keep them clean and dry. Disinfecting these areas with diluted bleach helps.

Also, regularly steam or dry clean rugs, upholstery, and beddings, either by yourself or by a professional.

Treatments
Due to developments in recent years, it is now possible for most people to get relief from their seasonal allergy symptoms by using prescription and/or over-the-counter medications.

But before trying any of these treatments, consult with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition. If prescription medication therapy is appropriate for your condition, make sure your doctor is aware of all the other drugs and supplements you are taking.

The major categories of allergy treatments include antihistamines, decongestants, anti-inflammatory medications and anticholingergics. Your doctor may suggest that you use one or a combination of these, depending on your symptoms and its severity.

As you learn more about your own seasonal allergic symptoms, the more you will be better able to avoid the causes and go for more effective treatments.

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