How to Know if You Have Seasonal Allergies

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans share your misery, with sneezing, congestion and a runny nose. Symptoms can also include rashes or hives, itchy, watery eyes and a scratchy throat or ears. Seasonal allergies are especially common in southwest Ohio. Your troubles may be limited to spring or fall, but some people struggle with these annoying symptoms all year long.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

When symptoms blossom in the spring, look to trees, grass and pollen as likely culprits. And if they flair up in the fall, pay attention to ragweed, another trigger. If you’re sensitive to dust or mold, you may be bothered by symptoms year round.

Anessa Alappatt, MD, Fairborn Medical Center, discusses seasonal allergies and symptoms.

Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What Are Seasonal Allergies And What Symptoms Are Associated With It?

Seasonal allergies are a body's abnormal response to triggers, so, instead of the trees, which really shouldn't bother you, but it causes a chemical response so the cells release these chemicals, like histamines. I'm sure you've heard of antihistamines, that cause symptoms, like runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, itchy throat, those are some common symptoms that people have, and they can run in the spring and you may only have spring allergies, they can run in the fall, or they can, run year round if you have allergies to all of those environmental things. Or if you have dust allergies or molds – those tend to kind of be more year-round type, but the seasonal allergies are specific to trees, grasses or, like, ragweed in the fall.


Coping Tips

Understand what sets off your symptoms, and you’re on your way to a sneeze-free season. According to Dr. Anne Reitz, Samaritan North Family Physicians, seasonal allergies can’t be cured, but over-the-counter or prescription drugs can handle most of the symptoms.

Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

Can Seasonal Allergies Be Cured?

Seasonal allergies are not usually cured, but certainly we can take care of the majority of the symptoms through medications. A lot of these medications are actually over-the-counter, but there are some medications that can be prescribed by your doctor. If you can't control your symptoms with medications, the doctor could send you to an allergist or even an ear, nose and throat specialist, who can do some allergy testing and get you on allergy shots.


However, there’s a lot you can do ease your discomfort:

How To Know If You Have Seasonal Allergies - In Content
  • Exercise outdoors when pollen counts are lowest — before the sun is up, or in the late afternoon/early evening. That’s because exercise makes you breathe deeply and take in more pollen. If you’re going out for a stroll, take a non-drowsy antihistamine before heading out.
  • If you like gardening, take an antihistamine about 30 minutes before you start. Wear gloves and a filter mask to protect you from the pollen you’ll stir up when digging in the dirt. Avoid touching your eyes, and wash your hands, hair and clothes when you finish.
  • In cold weather, bundle up to reduce your chances of having an asthma attack.
  • Check daily air quality forecasts and plan outdoor activities when pollution levels are lowest.
If you’re sensitive to dust or mold, you may be bothered by symptoms year round.

Medication Can Help

To help curb your symptoms, consider these common over-the-counter medications:

  • title=Antihistamine;healthinfo=Allergy Medicines: Over-the-Counter: Prevents sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes
  • Decongestant: Opens up your airways, relieves sinus pressure and reduces nasal swelling
  • Saline spray, rinse and gel: Soothes and moisturizes your nose, and cleans out mucus

If these remedies don’t work, ask your doctor about a prescription for a stronger or different drug. Or you may want to see an allergist or ear, nose and throat specialist to find out if allergy shots (also known as immunotherapy).

Small Steps: Read the Label
Fish and fish products can show up in unexpected places, so always check food labels.