July 15, 2024
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Seasonal Allergies Are Here Again

Seasonal allergies or “hay fever” happen during certain times of the year, usually when trees, grasses and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air. Hay fever comes by its name from hay-cutting season. Historically, this activity occurred in the summer months, around the same time many people experienced symptoms. Seasonal allergies are very common and can occur when your immune system overreacts to an outdoor allergen, such as pollen. An allergen is something that triggers an allergic response.

The most common allergens in spring are pollens from trees, especially birch, cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow and poplar. Seasonal allergies are less common during the winter, but it is possible to experience it all year-round.

You may also react to indoor allergens, such as mold or pet dander. Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe. The most common include: sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, watery and itchy eyes, itchy sinuses, throat or ear canals, ear congestion and post-nasal drip. Less common symptoms include: headache, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.

Many people with hay fever also have asthma. If you have both hay fever and asthma, your seasonal allergens may trigger an asthma attack.

The best medicine for hay fever and year-round allergy is avoidance of allergens that trigger symptoms for you.

You can take some steps to avoid seasonal allergens. For example, use an air conditioner with a HEPA filter to cool your home in summer, rather than ceiling fans. Check your local weather network for pollen forecasts, and try to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. At times of year when your hay fever is active:

Keep your windows shut.

Limit your time outdoors.

Consider wearing a dust mask when you’re outside, especially on windy days.

When you cannot avoid the allergens, other treatments are available, which are:

Over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines, such as cetirizine and combination medications containing acetaminophen, diphenhydramine and phenylephrine.

Prescription medications, such as steroid nasal sprays.

In severe cases, your doctor may recommend allergy shots. They’re a type of immunotherapy that can help desensitize your immune system to allergens.

Few studies have been done on alternative treatments for hay fever. Some people believe the following alternative treatments may provide relief:

Quercetin, a flavonoid that gives fruits and vegetables color.

Lactobacillus acidophilus, the “friendly” bacteria found in yogurt.

Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae.

Vitamin C, which has some antihistamine properties.

More research is needed to learn if these alternative treatments are effective.

At Parkview Pharmacy, we are happy to address all your seasonal allergy concerns and questions.


Paris Pournazari, PharmD, is a pharmacist at Parkview Pharmacy.

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