What helps relieve seasonal allergies
By Gary Heiting, OD
Eye allergies — red, itchy, watery eyes that are bothered by the same irritants that cause sneezing and a runny nose among seasonal allergy sufferers — are extremely common.
In addition to having symptoms of sneezing, congestion and a runny nose, most of these allergy sufferers also experience itchy eyes, watery eyes, red eyes and swollen eyelids.
In some cases, eye allergies also can frolic a role in conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other eye infections.
If you ponder you own eye allergies, here are a few things you should know — including helpful tips on how to get relief from your red, itchy, watery eyes.
Okay, so when does allergy season 2020 start?
Well, it’s technically *always* allergy season due to year-round offenders such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network. But some allergens–pollens, specifically—are seasonal.
Tree pollen, for example, pops up in the spring (generally in tardy March to April), grass pollen arrives in the tardy spring (around May), weed pollen is most prevalent in the summer (July to August), and ragweed pollen takes over from summer to drop (late August to the first frost), says Dr.
And even worse news: Climate change means allergy season begins earlier and lasts longer, adds Corinne Keet, MD, PhD, a professor and allergist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
To get super-specific, Pollen.com has a National Allergy Map that provides an up-to-date allergy forecast in diverse areas around the country and an Allergy Alert app that gives five-day forecasts with in-depth info on specific allergens, helping you decide if you should stay indoors that day.
Certain areas own also seen a particularly large increase in pollen during allergy season.
In 2019, the New York Times reported on the extreme blankets of pollen that hit North Carolina; Georgia and Chicago also faced especially aggressive allergy seasons too. In Alaska, temperatures are rising so quickly (as in numerous other far northern countries), that the pollen count and season duration are seeing unprecedented growth.
What causes eye allergies
Common allergens include pollen, animal dander and mold.
Eye allergies also can be caused by reactions to certain cosmetics or eye drops, including artificial tears used for treating dry eyes that contain preservatives.
Food allergies and allergic reactions to bee stings or other insect bites typically do not affect the eyes as severely as airborne allergens do.
Eye allergy relief
To get relief from your eye allergies and itchy, watery eyes, you can take a few approaches:
The best approach to controlling your eye allergy symptoms is to do everything you can to limit your exposure to common allergens that you know you are sensitive to.
For example, on days when the pollen count is high, stay indoors as much as possible, with the air conditioner running to filter the air.
Use high quality furnace filters that can trap common allergens and replace the filters frequently.
When you do go outdoors during allergy season, wear wraparound sunglasses to assist shield your eyes from pollen, ragweed, etc., and drive with your windows closed.
How can I tell if I own a freezing or if I own allergies?
Sometimes it may be hard to tell if you own a freezing or whether your symptoms are caused by an allergy.
However, if you own a sore throat, body aches, and/or a fever along with coughing and sneezing, it is more likely that you own a freezing or the flu. If your symptoms don’t get better or you own a fever of 101 or higher, you should call your primary care provider.
Who gets seasonal allergies?
Anyone, no matter their gender, race, age or where they live can own seasonal allergies. These conditions often run in families so it is likely that you know someone else who is shut to you that has similar symptoms. Symptoms often start when a person is a kid or young adult and can final a lifetime; however, symptoms generally get better with time.
Remove your contacts
Because the surface of contact lenses can attract and accumulate airborne allergens, consider wearing glasses instead of contacts during allergy season.
Or consider switching to daily disposable contacts that you discard after a single use to avoid the buildup of allergens and other debris on your lenses.
Often, the best choice if allergies are bothering your eyes is to discontinue wearing contacts altogether — at least until every your allergy symptoms are gone. Also, wearing eyeglasses with photochromic lenses can reduce allergy-related sensitivity to light and can assist shield your eyes from airborne allergens.
Ask about prescription medications
If your allergy symptoms are relatively severe or over-the-counter eye drops are ineffective at providing relief, you may need your eye doctor to prescribe a stronger medication.
Prescription eye drops and oral medications used to relieve eye allergies include:
What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are:
- Stuffy and/or runny nose
- Itchy ears
- Coughing or sneezing
- Itchy eyes
- Mild sore or scratchy throat
- If you own asthma, it may be triggered by seasonal allergies
Seasonal allergies, also known as “hay fever,” affects almost 50 million people in the U.S.
What are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies (also called “hay fever”) are certain conditions that trigger an allergic response. People who own seasonal allergies generally own an allergic reaction when they come in contact with pollen from certain trees, grasses, weeds, and/or mold spores. Most people can be around these substances; however, people who own seasonal allergies often own symptoms which can final most of the spring and summer months.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Allergies happen when a person’s immune system, which normally fights infection and keeps you healthy, reacts to something(s) in the environment as a threat to the body.
When this happens, it triggers an immune response.
Can I prevent allergy symptoms?
You may be capable to prevent or at least lessen allergy symptoms if you know which pollens you are allergic to. Check the pollen count and avoid spending a endless time exterior or having windows open when these counts are high (you can check the local pollen count online or in a newspaper.) Shower and wash your hair (to rinse off pollen) after spending a lot of time exterior. If possible, use an air conditioner and hold windows closed, especially at night while you’re sleeping.
What are some ways to treat my seasonal allergy symptoms?
Seasonal allergy symptoms may be treated with one or more treatments such as simple nose rinses, over-the-counter medicine and prescription medicine and/or allergy shots or pills.
Enquire your health care provider which treatment(s) is best for you.
- Nose rinses and nose sprays: Your health care provider may propose cleaning the inside of your nose with salt water. Water with added salt is placed in one nostril. As the water flows out through your other nostril (opening on the other side of your nose) so does any pollen or irritants.
Enquire your HCP if a nasal rinse would be helpful and if so, how to do it. If your nose is extremely irritated from seasonal allergies, your HCP may prescribe a steroid nose spray. Nasal sprays generally assist with seasonal allergy symptoms but they can take a few days or even a week before they start to work.
- Allergy shots: Allergy shots are also called “immunotherapy.” If prescription medicine doesn’t improve your symptoms, after a while, your primary care doctor may own you see an “allergist” (a doctor who specializes in taking care of people with every kinds of allergies).
Your allergist may propose allergy shots. This is a long-term treatment that involves getting weekly or monthly allergy shots. This treatment can take up to numerous months or even a year to see results.
- Antihistamines: The most common type of medicine to treat seasonal allergies are called antihistamines, and they may be taken as a pill, liquid, eye drop, or nasal spray. Common oral (taken by mouth) antihistamines are Zyrtec® (Cetirizine), Claritin® (loratadine), and Benadryl® (diphenhydramine). These medicines are used to treat general allergy symptoms, whereas eye drops and nasal sprays will give you “local” relief (just to your eyes or nose).
Antihistamines are available over the counter, but also in prescription-strength doses. Some antihistamines cause drowsiness (make you feel tired) and should only be taken at night. Check with your primary care provider to discover out which antihistamine is best for you since some can interact with other medicines that you might be taking.
- SLIT: SLIT stands for “Sublingual Immunotherapy” which is the newest alternative to allergy shots.
SLIT is a pill that is made up of “extracts” of what a person is allergic too, which is similar to allergy shots. The pill is placed under a person’s tongue.
After a couple of minutes, the person swallows the pill. SLIT must be prescribed by an allergist only after allergy testing is done.
When do people get seasonal allergies?
People who own seasonal allergies most often complain of symptoms in the spring and summer months; however, symptoms may also happen in the drop or winter months, depending on where you live.
Part of the body's natural allergic response is the release of histamine, a substance that dilates blood vessels and making the walls of blood vessels abnormally permeable.
Symptoms caused by histamine include a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Antihistamines reduce allergic reactions by blocking the attachment of histamine to cells in the body that produce an allergic response.
Use eye drops
Because eye allergies are so common, there are numerous brands of non-prescription eye drops available that are formulated to relieve itchiness, redness and watery eyes caused by allergies.
If your eye allergy symptoms are relatively mild, non-prescription eye drops for allergy relief may work extremely well for you and may be less expensive than prescription eye drops or other medication.
Enquire your eye doctor to recommend a brand to try.
What if I own severe allergy symptoms?
Ask your health care provider if you should start your medicine about 2 weeks before you generally get seasonal allergy symptoms.
While seasonal allergies can be uncomfortable, there are things you can do to ease your symptoms so you can still enjoy being outdoors! Be certain to let your health care provider know how you’re feeling and what seems to make your symptoms better or worse.
Itchy eyes, a congested nose, sneezing, wheezing and hives: these are symptoms of an allergic reaction caused when plants release pollen into the air, generally in the spring or drop.
Numerous people use hay fever as a colloquial term for these seasonal allergies and the inflammation of the nose and airways.
But hay fever is a misnomer, said Dr. Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat doctor and sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
«It is not an allergy to hay,» Josephson, author of the book «Sinus Relief Now» (Perigee Trade, 2006), told Live Science. «Rather, it is an allergy to weeds that pollinate.»
Doctors and researchers prefer the phrase allergic rhinitis to describe the condition.
More than 50 million people experience some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2017, 8.1% of adults and 7.7% of children reported own allergic rhinitis symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, between 10 and 30% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, Josephson said.
In 2019, spring arrived early in some parts of the country and later in others, according to the National Phenology Network (NPN).
Spring brings blooming plants and, for some, lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. According to NPN data, spring reared its head about two weeks early in areas of California, Nevada and numerous of the Southern and Southeastern states.
Much of California, for example, is preparing for a brutal allergy season due to the large quantity of winter rain. On the other hand, spring ranged from about one to two weeks tardy in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic U.S. [Watch a Massive ‘Pollen Cloud’ Explode from Late-Blooming Tree]
What can I do if my allergy meds aren’t working…or my allergies are getting worse?
If you’re already taking OTC allergy meds (and, you know, keeping your windows closed and washing your face and hair after coming inside), allergy shots, a.k.a.
allergen immunotherapy, make your immune system less reactive to allergens (read: pollen), and for some people, they can even induce a cure, says Dr. Parikh.
“By giving little increasing doses of what you are allergic to, you train the immune system to slowly stop being as allergic,” she says. “This is the best way to address allergies, as it targets the underlying problem and builds your immunity to a specific allergen.”
Allergy shots are a bit of a time commitment. You’ll need to get them once a week for six to eight months, then once a month for a minimum of two years, says Dr. Parikh. You need to be a little bit patient, too, because it can take about six months to start feeling better (so if you desire protection by March, you’ll probably own to start in September the year before). But a life without allergies? Sounds worth it to me.
Cassie ShortsleeveFreelance WriterCassie Shortsleeve is a skilled freelance author and editor with almost a decade of experience reporting on every things health, fitness, and travel.
Kristin CanningKristin Canning is the health editor at Women’s Health, where she assigns, edits and reports stories on emerging health research and technology, women’s health conditions, psychology, mental health, wellness entrepreneurs, and the intersection of health and culture for both print and digital.
What does that mean for my allergy meds?
When should I start taking them?
There’s no point in waiting until you’re miserable to take allergy meds, especially if you desire to hold up your outdoor workouts.
In fact, allergists recommend you start taking meds a couple weeks before allergy season arrives, or, at the latest, take them the moment you start having symptoms, says Dr. Parikh. Taking them early can stop an immune system freak-out before it happens, lessening the severity of symptoms, he adds. Check out the National Allergy Map to figure out when to start taking meds depending on where you live.
As for which allergy meds to take, if you’re seriously stuffed, start with steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase or Rhinocort, which reduce inflammation-induced stuffiness, says Dr.
Keet. And if you’ve got itching, sneezing, and a runny nose, too, glance for non-sedating antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Xyzal, or Allegra, she adds. Just remember: While OTC allergy meds suppress symptoms, they don’t cure the problem, so they may be less effective if your allergies are worsening, notes Dr. Parikh.