What works best for seasonal allergies

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.”

The downside? 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.

What works best for seasonal allergies

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 can I do if my allergy meds aren’t workingor 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.”

The downside? 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 are allergies?

Allergic disorders affect an estimated 1 in 5 adults and children (40 to 50 million people) and are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, according to the Allergy Report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI).

Allergies are the immune system’s inappropriate response to a foreign substance.

Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, causes the immune system to react as if the substance were harmful. Substances that cause allergies are called allergens. Most allergies result from a combination of inheritance (genes) and environmental exposures (pollens, animal dander, etc.). Being exposed to allergens at certain times when the body’s defenses are low or feeble, such as after a viral infection, a serious illness, or during pregnancy also may contribute to the development of allergies.

When you come into contact with an inhaled allergen, you may experience nasal/eye symptoms (allergic rhino, conjunctivitis or hay fever) including sneezing, congestion, itchy, watery nose and eyes and/or asthma symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing and coughing.

What is an allergic reaction?

A hypersensitive response, or allergic reaction, is the result of the interaction among the allergen itself, mast cells and immunoglobulin E (IgE).

The result is a immediate release of inflammatory chemicals that can cause swelling of tissues, itching, engorgement of blood vessels, increased secretions and bronchospasm (tightening of muscles that surround the airways).

If the allergen is in the air, the allergic reaction will happen in the eyes, nose and/or lungs.

What works best for seasonal allergies

If the allergen is ingested, the allergic reaction may primarily happen in the mouth, stomach, and intestines.

What types of allergens cause allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (hay fever)?

The most common allergens are pollens and dust mites. Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, or hay fever, is the allergic response to pollen. It causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of the nose, as well as the protective tissue of the eyes (conjunctiva).

Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. Treatment options include over-the-counter and prescription oral and topical medications. These medications include antihistamines, intranasal cromolyn, intranasal steroids, oral anti-leukotrienes, oral decongestants and others. Among the most effective strategies to reduce allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms is avoidance.

Avoiding pollen exposure by staying indoors when pollen counts are high, closing windows and using air conditioning will assist reduce symptoms. Avoidance of indoor allergens such as dust mites and mold spores entails measures to reduce indoor humidity.

Dust mite exposure can also be reduced by mattress/box spring and pillow encasement, and washing every bedding in boiling cycle frequently. Avoiding pets is a challenge for numerous patients, but can be a extremely significant factor in improving symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctiviitis and/or asthma. When avoidance measures combined with regular use of medications is not effective, not feasible or not desirable, immunotherapy (allergy shots or a little tablet under the tongue, called sublingual) may be considered.

  1. Dust mites: Dust mites are microscopic insects that live in dust and in the fibers of household objects not frequently laundered, such as pillows, mattresses, carpet and upholstery.

    Dust mites require warm, humid areas to grow and proliferate.

    What works best for seasonal allergies

    The symptoms of dust mite allergy are similar to those of pollen allergy, and also can be associated with symptoms of asthma such as wheezing and coughing. To assist avoid dust mite allergens, attempt using dust mite covers (air-tight plastic/polyurethane covers) over pillows, mattresses and box springs. Also, remove carpeting or vacuum frequently using a vacuum cleaner with high efficiency filters. Treatment frequently also includes medications and/or allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).

  2. Pollens: Pollens are microscopic particles released into the air by trees, grasses and weeds.

    When these particles are inspired, people who own inherited the potential to make allergic responses in their immune system may become sensitized. When they are subsequently re-exposed to the same pollen, they may experience symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

  3. Molds: Molds are parasitic, microscopic fungi with spores that are also released in the air — love pollen. Mold can be found in damp areas, such as the basement or bathroom, as well as in the outdoor environment in grass, leaf piles, hay, mulch, or under mushrooms.

    Mold spores peak during boiling, humid weather.

  4. Animal dander: The proteins secreted by sweat glands in an animal’s skin, which are shed in dander, and the proteins present in an animal’s saliva cause allergic reactions in some people. Treatment involves avoiding exposure as much as possible.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/11/

References

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So Boiling in Here

Reports of pollen allergies first appeared around the time of the industrial revolution.

Whether that means that these allergies were the product of pollution, new diets, or changes in hygiene isn’t clear. What is clear, writes Charles W. Schmidt in this month’s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, is the role of climate change in contemporary pollen allergies.

“When exposed to warmer temperatures and higher levels of CO2, plants grow more vigorously and produce more pollen than they otherwise would,” writes Schmidt.

Warming temperatures in some areas, love the northern United States, extend the periods during which plants release pollen.

The combined effect of warming temperatures and more CO2 means that the quantity of pollen in the air has been increasing and will continue to increase as climate change worsens.

What works best for seasonal allergies

(According to a study presented by Bielory, pollen counts could double by )

This is bad news not just for people who own allergies, but also for people who don’t.

“In general, the longer you’re exposed to an allergen, the more likely you are going to be sensitized to that allergen,” Bielory says. People who own pollen allergies may experience intensified symptoms, and people who don’t normally own pollen allergies may start to.

Already, Schmidt writes, there “is evidence suggesting that hay fever prevalence is rising in numerous parts of the world.”


Okay, so when does allergy season 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.

Jewelyn Butron

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. Parikh.

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, 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 , 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 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.

What works best for seasonal allergies

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.


Does Honey Help?

With the increase in the number of pollen allergy-sufferers, it’s understandable that people own begun to seek natural ways to alleviate their symptoms. Some own even argued that consuming honey will build up your resistance because it contains pollen.

But as Rachel E.

Gross points at out Slate, that theory’s just honey bunches of lies; mainly because the pollen that makes you sneeze doesn’t come from flowers.

In the spring, the pollen that gives humans allergies comes from trees. In the summer, people own allergic reactions to grass pollen; and at the finish finish of summer and beginning of drop, people start to suffer from pollinating weeds—especially ragweed, which has spread from the United States to Europe and the Middle East.

Really, the “natural” ways to deal with pollen allergies are to stay clean, hold your windows closed, and go exterior when pollen counts are lower, such as after it rains. If your symptoms are bad enough, take over-the-counter medication or see an allergist.

And if you don’t mind the risk of malnutrition or life-threatening diseases, there’s always hookworms.

Follow Becky Little on .

Seasonal allergies (commonly called hay fever) are common. They happen only during certain times of the year—particularly the spring, summer, or fall—depending on what a person is allergic to. Symptoms involve primarily the membrane lining the nose, causing allergic rhinitis, or the membrane lining the eyelids and covering the whites of the eyes (conjunctiva), causing allergic conjunctivitis.

The term hay fever is somewhat misleading because symptoms do not happen only in the summer when hay is traditionally gathered and never include fever.

Hay fever is generally a reaction to pollens and grasses. The pollens that cause hay fever vary by season:

  1. Summer: Grasses (such as Bermuda, timothy, sweet vernal, orchard, and Johnson grass) and weeds (such as Russian thistle and English plantain)

  2. Spring: Generally trees (such as oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper, and olive)

There’s no contesting that allergy season is annoying AF. You’re supposed to *finally* be running exterior again or picnicking in the park, but instead, you’re stuck inside trying (key word) to breathe through snot and see through watery, itchy eyes.

And if it feels love your allergies own gotten worse the final few years, you’re not incorrect. After a consistent increase in the intensity and length of allergy season over the final several years (you can blame climate change), allergy season will likely be worse than usual or potentially the most intense and longest yet if the trend continues. Whomp, whomp.

Allergy symptoms—those watery eyes and stuffy nose, along with sneezing fits, coughing, wheezing, and hive- or eczema-like rashes—happen when your immune system essentially freaks out over an otherwise harmless substance (like pollen).

Delightful, huh?

But even if the above symptoms sound every too familiar, there is excellent news: You can fight back against allergies—and the sooner you get started the better. That means knowing when exactly allergy season will start this year, and how to prep your body for any allergen invaders.


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