What Is the Cause of Seasonal Allergies and How to Treat the Symptoms?
Estimated 7 percent of adults in the United States are affected by seasonal allergies. For these people, the changes in seasons mean increase in allergy symptoms. Most seasonal allergies are associated with springtime, but summer and fall allergies are common too. But why do some people develop sneezes and sniffles when exposed to seasonal allergens, and other don’t? What’s the cause of seasonal allergies in the first place?
Why Do People Develop Seasonal Allergies?
If you have a seasonal allergy, you will develop an allergic reaction when exposed to pollen from trees, grass or weed, mold, and other seasonal triggers. The symptoms usually include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Why does this happen?
Experts and researchers all over the world have been trying to answer this questions for many years now, but the exact reason of allergy development is not clear yet.
What we do know is that allergic reactions occur when your immune system reacts to normally harmless substances, as if they were posing a threat to your body. The mechanism of reaction is similar to the way we respond to infectious agents, such as viruses. Exposure to allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, and others causes allergic people to develop antibodies against the invaders.
As you may know, some people are more prone to allergies compared to others, and researchers are still trying to understand why. Some experts believe that the reason lies in early stages of your life. Thus, there are various theories, according to which the use of antibiotics early in life, as well as limited exposure to everyday flora and fauna might be to blame, along with other aspects.
How Can You Treat Seasonal Allergies?
The first step in treating seasonal allergies is determining whether the symptoms are caused by a cold or allergy. While both conditions may cause sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, etc., the symptoms like fever, cough, aches and pains, or fatigue are rather related to colds.
If you do have a seasonal allergy, it’s most likely to be incurable. However, experts suggest various ways to control the symptoms.
To start with, the most effective way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergens. Thus, to avoid tree pollen and mold, which are the most common spring allergy triggers, you may want to stay indoors or wear a special mask when you’re outside. When you come home after being outside, make sure to take a shower to get rid of pollen particles on your skin and hair. The same applies to pets who have been outdoors.
Besides, people with tree pollen allergies may experience worsening of their symptoms on windy sunny days, as the levels of airborne pollen increase on such days. However, pollen counts get down on rainy days, which means the amount of allergens in the air decreases.
When it comes to allergy treatment, there are a lot of different over-the-counter and prescription medications available on the market. Antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays are probably the most commonly used types of treatment nowadays. For instance, steroid nasal sprays help to stop the immune reaction in your nose. While you can use them when needed, these sprays are more effective when you use them consistently, for at least a couple of weeks. Thus, some allergists recommend their patients to start using steroid sprays a few weeks before the allergy seasons begins and continue the treatment until the season is over.
Another method to control the symptoms of seasonal allergies is to try immunotherapy, or allergy shots. This treatment involves receiving tiny doses of allergens regularly for a certain period of time, which is believed to improve allergy symptoms and decrease the need for medication. However, immunotherapy is not an immediate solution: it usually takes from 3 to 5 years for the treatment to show the significant results. On the other hand, the benefits provided by immunotherapy may also last for several years, even after you’ve finished the course.
The Bottom Line
These are just recommendations that may help you control your allergies. However, it is always better to see an actual specialist because each case remains individual, and you may require specific type of treatment.