April 27, 2017

Seasonal Allergies – Understanding and Overcoming Those Pesky Problems

Seasonal allergies occur at the same time of the year every year, if you continue to live in the same part of the country. Hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis) is the most common seasonal allergy. 

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny, stuffy or itchy nose
  • Temporary loss of smell
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Dark circles under the eyes (“allergic shiners”)
  • Drainage from the nose down the back of the throat (postnasal drip)
  • Sore throat or coughing
  • Snoring 

How can you help prevent seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, are often caused by exposure to pollen. You can reduce your exposure to pollen by:

  • Keeping your house and car windows closed
  • Limiting the time you spend outside when pollen counts are high (during midday and afternoon)
  • Wearing a pollen mask or dust mask if you need to mow the lawn
  • Limiting your mowing tasks if you can
  • Rinsing your eyes with cool water or saline eye drops to remove clinging pollen after you come indoors
  • Taking a shower and changing your clothes after you work or play outside

 How can you treat seasonal allergies?

The following home treatment measures may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Clean the inside of your nose with salt water to clear a stuffy nose.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom and take hot showers to help clear a stuffy nose.
  • If your nose is red and raw from rubbing, put petroleum jelly on the sore area.
  • Use over-the-counter allergy medicine to help your symptoms. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • To relieve a stuffy nose, use a steroid nasal spray. A steroid nasal spray can also help with red, itchy, watery eyes.
    • Another way to relieve a stuffy nose is a nasal or oral decongestant. Decongestants may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems.
    • For itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; or a runny, itchy nose, try a nonsedating over-the-counter antihistamine. Don’t give antihistamines to your child unless you’ve checked with the doctor first.
    • To help relieve pain, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Reviewed by Jeanne Schlesinger, NP, Mission Community Primary Care – Haywood.

If you experience continued discomfort due to your seasonal allergies, schedule an appointment with you primary care physician to explore other options. To find a Mission primary care provider, call (828) 213-3222 or request an appointment at mission-health.org/primarycare.

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