Spring is a season that many people look forward to, with its warmer temperatures, longer days, and blooming flowers. However, for millions of people around the world, springtime can be a nightmare due to seasonal allergies. Spring allergies are caused by the release of pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, triggering an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Spring allergies typically start in late February or early March and last until late May or early June, depending on where you live. The peak allergy season can vary from year to year and depends on several factors, including weather conditions, the type of pollen in the air, and the location. In general, the further south you live, the earlier the allergy season starts, and the longer it lasts.
The symptoms of spring allergies can range from mild to severe and can include sneezing, running or stuffy nose, watery or itchy eyes, itchy throat or ears, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. There are several treatment options for spring allergies, ranging from over-the-counter medications to allergy shots. The goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the aforementioned symptoms and improve your quality of life. Among the most common treatment options are antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, and allergy shots.
Antihistamines are available over-the-counter and can help relieve itching, sneezing, and runny nose. They work by blocking histamine, a chemical released by the body in response to an allergen. Examples of antihistamines include loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine; Decongestants can help relieve nasal congestion by constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages. They are available over-the-counter in oral or nasal spray form. Examples of decongestants include phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine; Corticosteroids are prescription medications that reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. They are highly effective at relieving nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. Examples of nasal corticosteroids include fluticasone, mometasone, and budesonide; Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, involve injecting small amounts of allergens into the body over time. This process helps the body build up immunity to the allergen and reduces the severity of allergic reactions. Allergy shots are typically given over several months or years. Alternative therapies are non-medical treatment options that can also be used to complement traditional treatments for springtime allergies, including acupuncture and herbal remedies.
If your symptoms are persistent or severe, you may need to see an allergist for further evaluation and treatment. An allergist can perform skin tests or blood tests to determine your specific allergens and develop a personalized treatment plan. They can also provide education and resources to help you manage your allergies effectively.