Seasonal allergies are caused by airborne allergens that are found during specific seasons and times of the year. Seasonal allergies, often known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, cause itchy skin, a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. While the seasonal appearance of these symptoms is often enough to indicate a seasonal allergy, a formal diagnosis can be made through skin tests. These tests can also be used to identify exactly which allergens you are allergic to.
Seasonal allergies occur mainly in the spring, summer and fall (depending on which allergens a person is sensitive to). Furthermore, if you are a particularly sensitive person, you may be allergic to several allergens and therefore suffer during an extended allergy season.
Most people with seasonal allergies are allergic to some type of pollen. According to the National Institutes of Health, 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, and a large proportion of these suffer from allergies to pollen. Allergy-causing pollens from trees such as oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper and olive saturate the air in the spring months.
Pollen from grasses such as Bermuda, timothy, sweet vernal, orchard and Johnson grass cause summer allergies, while ragweed tends to produce and release pollen during the fall. Allergies to ragweed pollen are common, with 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffering from this allergy. Ragweed is also especially common in the Eastern and Midwest states, and the rates of allergies to this type of pollen are consequently higher among these populations.
Furthermore, while mold typically grows best during the warm and humid summer months, mold is present in homes throughout the year. Mold flourishes in warm, wet environments such as in basements, kitchens and bathrooms, in the carpets and in the upholstery. Keeping your home well ventilated and dry, especially during the summer, will help control allergic reactions to mold.