What treatment is used for severe seasonal allergies?

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

Seasonal allergies are typically referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. The causes are usually pollen or mold spores that are released into the air at a certain time of year so that plants and fungi can reproduce. When you breathe in any of these allergens, your immune system overreacts. It releases antibodies which then trigger the release of a bunch of chemicals, histamine included. Histamine is the cause for most allergic symptoms like sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes, sinus pain and coughing. Seasonal allergies affect people differently, depending on what they're allergic to and how sensitive they are. Trees tend to release pollen in the spring, while grass and weeds pollinate in the summer. Ragweed makes some people miserable in the fall. Meanwhile, mold allergies are worst from the end of March until November.

While most people can reduce their allergic symptoms using antihistamines and decongestants, people with severe seasonal allergies can require something stronger. An allergist can determine exactly what you're allergic to and what treatment is necessary.


There are three main options for severe allergies beyond regular treatment. Nasal ipratropium comes in a spray and works to alleviate the discomfort of an intensely runny nose. It stops the glands in your nose from making more fluid than necessary. However, it's not helpful against a stuffy nose, sneezing or a postnasal drip. Oral corticosteroids are pills that can help relieve a number of severe seasonal allergy symptoms. They're only prescribed for short amounts of time because the side effects can be serious. The other major recourse for severe seasonal allergies is immunotherapy, otherwise known as allergy shots. Your doctor will give you relatively frequent shots for up to five years to get your body used to the allergens that drive it crazy. Once you're desensitized, your symptoms will die down.