Spring time allergies are common and they affect a major portion of the U.S. population. Spring is a time when flowers blossom, following a cold and dormant winter. But for many, the increase in color and temperature, during spring brings with it the particular discomforts of seasonal allergies, such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis.
Springtime allergies are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen and dust mites, which are particularly omnipresent during springtime. They cause a range of symptoms, such as itchy skin, a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing; that can also differ in severity from person to person. Diagnosing a spring allergy can be as simple as following the seasonal appearance of allergy symptoms, which present around the same time, and for the same duration, each year. Diagnosing the offending allergen can be done through a simple skin test. This will reveal which allergens you need to avoid (usually a lot less simple than the test itself).
Pollen is the primary spring allergen, and pollen counts of airborne pollen particles from trees, such as oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper and olive, begin to soar during the spring months. The best way to control allergies to pollen is to avoid exposure to the guilty allergens, which means staying indoors. However, this type of management is very limiting and going outdoors in most likely unavoidable for most people. Limiting your time outdoors when the pollen count is high, and closing your windows in the office and home can help reduce exposure to pollen. Similarly, don't hang your laundry outside to dry, and take a shower after being outside.
Medical treatments for hay fever are also available, such as antihistamines along with oral decongestants. These relieve the immediate discomforts of nasal congestion and stuffy noses. People with high blood pressure should not take decongestants, but those without this problem can use a combined antihistamine/decongestant tablet for immediate and ongoing relief. Decongestant nose drops or sprays should not be used for more than two or three days in a row. Nasal decongestants are addictive and prolonged use can worsen nasal decongestion and can even cause chronic nasal decongestion. More severe allergy symptoms can be treated with corticosteroid nasal sprays.
Eye drops and eye washes can be used to treat itchy, burning eyes. Eye drops containing antihistamines are available without prescription. For more extreme allergy symptoms prescription eye drops with corticosteroids are also available. Eye drops containing corticosteroids must be used under the supervision of an ophthalmologist who will need to monitor your eye pressure.