Seasonal allergies (Allergic Rhinitis) are caused by the body’s immune system overreacting to stimulants in the environment — such as pollen, mold spores, dust or pet dander. The symptoms typically include a stuffy or runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, and a tickle in your throat. Seasonal allergies are usually treated using over-the-counter (OTC) medications — prescription medication or allergen immunotherapy is used in more severe cases. Here’s what you should know about seasonal allergies.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies in Louisiana
Louisiana’s weak winters and moist, humid climate provide an ideal environment for plants. This means pollen is produced for long stretches throughout the year, along with other kinds of allergens.
Common Louisiana Allergens:
Tree, Flower & Grass Pollen - Louisiana has a variety of plant life, meaning there is more than enough pollen to go around. Pollen is carried by the wind, so be wary of going out on particularly windy days if you suffer from seasonal allergies.
Mold - Mold thrives in damp, humid environments, making mold allergies common in Louisiana. Mold allergies can potentially be dangerous to those with asthma, so it’s especially important to eliminate these allergens whenever possible.
Dust & Dander - Allergies caused by dust and dander can especially be bad for those with pets in their home. This typically means congestion and itchy eyes.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
While everyone reacts differently to allergens, some of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are:
Runny nose and eyes
Post nasal drip (drainage in the throat)
Itchy eyes, nose and throat
Over-The-Counter Allergy Medications
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are a common solution for relief from seasonal allergies. The 3 kinds of OTC medications used to treat seasonal allergy symptoms are:
Antihistamines (Zyrtec, Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra) - Coming into contact with an allergy trigger produces chemicals called histamines. These cause your nose tissue to swell, which makes it stuffy; your eyes and nose to run; and your nose, eyes and potentially mouth to itch. More severe cases may develop an itchy skin rash, called hives. Antihistamines block or reduce histamines, so they can stop symptoms from seasonal allergies.
Decongestants (Afrin, Sudafed) - Decongestants help to reduce sinus and nasal pressure from congestion. Antihistamines typically don’t help to relieve a stuffy nose and sinus pressure, so decongestants are used to shrink the tissues and blood vessels lining your nose that are swollen from seasonal allergies. However, decongestants do not help with sneezing or itching. We do not recommend these for long-term use. No more than 3 days for Afrin and no more than 3-7 days for Sudafed.
Nasal Steroid Sprays (Nasacort, Flonase, Nasonex) - Nasal steroid sprays are one of the first recommended treatments for nasal allergies. They are available over-the-counter or by prescription and are used to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, relieving nasal symptoms. Consistency is key, you may use a nasal steroid spray daily.
Lifestyle Tips for Managing Seasonal Allergies
While there’s no “one-time” solution to treating seasonal allergies, being mindful of certain lifestyle choices can help to reduce the amount of allergens you encounter. Here are some of our tips to eliminating and avoiding allergens.
Know Your Pollen Levels - Be aware of the pollen level in your area. Knowing this can help you be prepared for any allergy symptoms and you can usually find pollen counts in your local weather report. Pollen gets stuck to your hair and clothes, which brings it inside with you. A good rule of thumb is to change your clothes and shoes when returning home and to always shower when you return home or before bed to remove any lingering allergens.
Eliminate Home Allergens - Dust, dander and mold are some of the most common in-home allergens. To help ease your allergy symptoms, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to remove excess moisture from the air — reducing mold and mildew spores that contribute to allergies. You can also consider using an air purifier for additional protection from airborne allergens.
There are several ways for you to avoid or eliminate allergens, such as:
Wipe down surfaces in your home
Keep floors mopped or vacuumed and limit rugs in the home
Wear a filter mask when performing yard work
Run your air conditioner on the fan setting to trap allergens in the filter
If you use corrective vision, wear glasses when your eyes get watery or itchy as opposed to contacts
Keep home and car windows and doors during peak allergy seasons
If you’re repeatedly calling in sick to work during allergy season, it may be time to consider allergy immunotherapy. We offer Allergy Drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy. These drops work similar to allergy shots by gradually helping your body build up a tolerance to the substance(s) causing your allergies. The key difference is that the antigen is placed under your tongue in a liquid drop form instead of an injection.
You don’t need to “suck it up” when it comes to seasonal allergies. Whether you’re looking for a personalized plan to attack your allergies, or allergy immunotherapy to build a long term tolerance to your allergies altogether — we can help. Schedule your appointment with Cypress Health + Wellness today!