What are some of the best ways to treat springtime allergies?

Spring is peak season for seasonal allergies, caused by airborne allergens, such as pollen and dust mites, which are particularly ubiquitous during the warmer seasons. Spring allergies are also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. They cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as itchy skin, a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. The appearance of these symptoms each year as the temperature begins to rise is enough of an indication of a seasonal allergy. However, a simple skin test can be done to diagnose a spring allergy and to identify which allergens are responsible.

Spring allergies soar as a result of the increasing airborne pollen count from trees, such as oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper and olive. These pollens saturate the air in the spring months. If you are one of the 35 million Americans who suffer from a seasonal allergy, you will understand the importance of finding a treatment that works.

The best way to control allergies is avoiding the guilty allergens. However, in the case of pollen allergies this can be particularly difficult during the spring. Limiting your time outdoors when the pollen count is high, and closing your windows in the office and home can help. Similarly, you should dry your laundry indoors and take a shower after being outside.

Using antihistamines along with oral decongestants will help relieve the immediate discomfort of nasal congestion and a stuffy, runny nose. An antihistamine/decongestant combination is available in one tablet, but decongestants can be dangerous for people with high blood pressure. Decongestant nose drops or sprays should be used sparingly - no more than a few days at a time - because, although they provide immediate relief, over time they can worsen or prolong nasal decongestion and can even cause chronic nasal decongestion. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may also provide relief from inflamed nasal passages and allergic sinusitis.

Use eyewashes such as artificial tears to bathe red, itchy eyes. Similarly, eye drops containing antihistamines are available without prescription and provide temporary relief; eye drops with corticosteroids are available to treat more serious symptoms. Corticosteroids must only be used in conjunction to regular appointments with an ophthalmologist.

Allergen immunotherapy can also be used to treat severe cases of springtime allergies that are not relieved by medications. This, however, needs to begin well in advance of the allergy season.