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2023-06-30 20:21:20

Seasonal Allergies: Triggers, Symptoms, How to Soothe Them

Throughout certain times of the year, your eyes might feel itchier than normal. Maybe your nose just won’t stop running. Or perhaps the sneezing never ends. You might be experiencing seasonal allergies! What are these, why do they happen, and what can you do to calm your seasonal allergies day-to-day? Let’s dive in.

What are Seasonal Allergies, Anyway?

Allergies can vary from individual to individual, from location to location, and based on the time of year. But very often, they start earlier in the year — around February – and last through the early summertime, although they can continue later into the fall. This aligns with when plants like trees, grass, and ragweed go through their pollination process.

Note that certain weather conditions can alter this timeline. For instance, if the winter is less intense, pollination can start early since the temperatures are milder. An exceptionally rainy spring can boost plant growth but also mold, and this can cause seasonal allergies to persist into the fall season. Generally speaking, if you live in a more humid climate, mold can be more problematic. Windy weather can spread allergens a greater distance. After rain, and on days that are warmer and windier, pollen counts are higher.

pollen from a flower blowing in the wind

The time of day can also influence seasonal allergies. For instance, pollen levels rise in the morning, reach their peak midday, and fall as the day wears on.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

The most common culprits of environmental allergies are grass, ragweed, tree pollen, and mold. Ragweed, in particular, is a big allergen because it grows far and wide around the United States. Other allergens can include:

What if You Don’t Know What You’re Allergic to?

Thankfully, a simple blood test can help narrow down what exactly is causing your seasonal allergies. eNational’s environmental allergies panel tests for some of the most common allergens in the United States, including various types of grasses and also animal hair. Results are available in two to four business days. Should you need a follow-up appointment, you’ll have the opportunity to speak with a clinician.

Common Symptoms

While we can all react differently to the same triggers, common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

How Can You Soothe Seasonal Allergies?

Note: Be sure you speak to your healthcare provider before trying to self-treat your allergy symptoms.

There are many things you can try to alleviate the symptoms of your seasonal allergies. Let’s start with over-the-counter medicine. Oral antihistamines (like Allegra and Claritin) can help with many allergy symptoms. You can also try oral decongestants, like Sudafed. Additionally, there are various types of nasal sprays — like corticosteroids and cromolyn sodium nasal sprays — that can target certain symptoms.

But what if you don’t want to take over-the-counter medications? Fortunately, there are alternative treatments you can try!

Sinus rinsing is one option. Rinsing with a saline solution can help to flush out any allergens and mucus that might be lurking in your nose and sinuses. You can buy kits that have the powdered solution ready, and all you have to do is mix them into your water. Always use filtered or bottled water, not tap! This is important to minimize the risk of infection. Sinus rinsing has a learning curve, and it can feel very weird the first few times. But once you get the hang of it, it can really help you breathe better.

Using an air purifier can also be a huge help. Look specifically for a purification system that utilizes a replaceable, medical-grade HEPA 13 filter. This is one of the most powerful kinds, so it can trap even very tiny particles. You want to opt for replaceable (and not washable) filters because washable filters are very hard to keep clean, and by having to manually remove and clean them, you’re exposing yourself to all of the dangerous particles they caught.

You can also use a humidifier and dehumidifier to your advantage. During more humid months, use a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of moisture in the air in your home. This can help keep the growth of mold to a minimum — and thus, your mold allergies. Similarly, during months that are more dry, use a humidifier to make the air more moist. This can help if your nasal passages are dry or irritated.

Next, while research is ongoing, there are some studies indicating that certain essential oils might be beneficial. For instance, peppermint oil could possibly offer anti-inflammatory effects to ultimately soothe symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis. Frankincense oil might help with allergic rhinitis.

using essential oils for seasonal allergies

Be mindful of how you use essential oils. Some should go in a diffuser. Others can be applied topically directly to the skin. Others need to be diluted into a carrier oil (like almond oil) first and then applied. And some, you can consume by putting a few drops under your tongue.

Finally, if nothing else, try to avoid going outdoors when the pollen count is high or when it’s windy. Aim to keep the doors and windows to your home closed. If you have to leave the house, wear a mask.

Seasonal Allergy Testing with eNational

eNational has thousands of locations around the United States, making it easier than ever to get tested for allergies and sensitivities. You don’t need to see your doctor first, and you can schedule an appointment online in just a few clicks. Simply show up to the testing center you’ve chosen, and your results will be delivered via email.

Seasonal allergies can really get you down, but they don’t have to. Get seasonal allergy testing today with eNational and take action on your symptoms!