What is causing my winter allergies
Hay fever is generally easier to diagnose than other allergies. If you own allergic symptoms that only happen at certain times of the year, it’s a sign that you own seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Your doctor may also check your ears, nose, and throat to make a diagnosis.
Allergy testing generally isn’t necessary. Your treatment for allergic rhinitis will likely be the same, no matter what type of allergen you react to.
Treatment Options for Winter Allergy Symptoms
To treat allergy symptoms, Jones cautions against older over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which, he says, can do more harm than good.
«Some of these drugs own too numerous side effects,» he notes, «and people don’t really understand how to match their symptoms to the product. They just know they feel bad and desire to feel better.»
For example, some OTC allergy drugs contain decongestants, like pseudoephedrine, which can lift a user’s heart rate.
The athletic ingredient in the antihistamine Benadryl — diphenhydramine — causes some tissues to dry out and promotes urinary retention, Jones says. «So people with prostate problems, who may own trouble urinating, discover that that condition worsens when they take diphenhydramine.»
Jones says that better options are decongestants that contain loratadine (such as Claritin) and cetirizine (like Zyrtec), two drugs that moved from prescription to OTC status in recent years.
Prescription steroid nasal sprays (some of which are also now available over-the-counter) tend to be more effective than antihistamine tablets, adds Rank, though individual responses vary and the two types of drugs are often used in combination.
Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medication, to discuss whether it’s appropriate for your symptoms and potential side effects.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology notes that if you own a pet allergy, you might consider immunotherapy — allergy shots or tablets — that can potentially desensitize you to the allergen and provide lasting relief. (4)
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Symptoms of seasonal allergies
Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe. The most common include:
Less common symptoms include:
Many people with hay fever also own asthma. If you own both hay fever and asthma, your seasonal allergens may trigger an asthma attack.
Causes of seasonal allergies
Hay fever happens when your immune system identifies an airborne substance that’s generally harmless as dangerous.
It responds to that substance, or allergen, by releasing histamines and other chemicals into your bloodstream. Those chemicals produce the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Common triggers of hay fever vary from one season to another.
Trees are responsible for most springtime seasonal allergies. Birch is one of the most common offenders in northern latitudes, where numerous people with hay fever react to its pollen. Other allergenic trees in North America include cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow, and poplar.
Autumn is ragweed season. The genus name for ragweed is Ambrosia, and it includes more than 40 species worldwide.
Most of them grow in temperate regions of North and South America. They’re invasive plants that are hard to control. Their pollen is a extremely common allergen, and the symptoms of ragweed allergy can be especially severe.
Other plants that drop their pollen in the drop include nettles, mugworts, sorrels, fat hens, and plantains.
Hay fever gets its name from hay-cutting season, which is traditionally in the summer months. But the genuine culprits of summertime seasonal allergies are grasses, such as ryegrass and timothy grass, as well as certain weeds. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, grasses are the most common trigger for people with hay fever.
By winter, most outdoor allergens lie dormant.
As a result, freezing weather brings relief to numerous people with hay fever. But it also means that more folks are spending time indoors.
If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, you may also react to indoor allergens, such as mold, pet dander, dust mites, or cockroaches.
Indoor allergens are often easier to remove from your environment than outdoor pollens. Here are a few tips for ridding your home of common allergens:
- Cover your bedding and pillows with allergen-proof covers.
- Fix water leaks and clean up water damage that can assist mold and pests flourish.
- Get rid of carpets and upholstered furniture.
- Remove stuffed toys from your children’s bedrooms.
- Wash your bedding in extremely boiling water at least once a week.
- Clean moldy surfaces and any places that mold may form, including humidifiers, swamp coolers, air conditioners, and refrigerators.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce excess moisture.
An allergy (allergic rhinitis) that occurs in a specific season is more commonly known as hay fever.
About 8 percent of Americans experience it, reports the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to an outdoor allergen, such as pollen. An allergen is something that triggers an allergic response. The most common allergens are pollens from wind-pollenated plants, such as trees, grasses, and weeds.
The pollens from insect-pollinated plants are too heavy to remain airborne for endless, and they’re less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
Hay fever comes by its name from hay-cutting season. Historically, this activity occurred in the summer months, around the same time numerous people experienced symptoms.
Seasonal allergies are less common during the winter, but it’s possible to experience allergic rhinitis year-round. Diverse plants emit their respective pollens at diverse times of year. Depending on your allergy triggers and where you live, you may experience hay fever in more than one season.
You may also react to indoor allergens, such as mold or pet dander.
Treating seasonal allergies
The best medicine for hay fever and year-round allergic rhinitis is avoidance of allergens that trigger symptoms for you. Medications are also available to treat symptoms of hay fever. Some people also attempt alternative treatments.
Take steps to avoid seasonal allergens. For instance, use an air conditioner with a HEPA filter to cool your home in summer, rather than ceiling fans. Check your local weather network for pollen forecasts, and attempt to stay indoors when pollen counts are high.
At times of year when your hay fever is active:
- keep your windows shut
- limit your time outdoors
- consider wearing a dust mask when you’re exterior, especially on windy days
It’s also significant to avoid cigarette smoke, which can aggravate hay fever symptoms.
When you can’t avoid your allergens, other treatments are available, including:
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend allergy shots. They’re a type of immunotherapy that can assist desensitize your immune system to allergens.
Some allergy medications may own unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
Shop for over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines online.
Few studies own been done on alternative treatments for hay fever.
Some people believe the following alternative treatments may provide relief:
- quercetin, a flavonoid that gives fruits and vegetables color
- spirulina, a type of blue-green algae
- Lactobacillus acidophilus, the “friendly” bacteria found in yogurt
- vitamin C, which has some antihistamine properties
More research is needed to study if these alternative treatments are effective.