For the estimated 40 million Americans who suffer from spring allergies, spring means more than just longer days, warmer weather and blooming flowers; it also means the onset of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing and a slew of other pesky allergy symptoms.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all cure for spring allergies, there are a number of steps you can take to keep them at bay. To help you get started, UnityPoint Clinic has everything you need to know about welcoming the new season in while keeping unwanted allergens out.
Spring Allergy Causes
Before you can begin to treat spring allergies, it is important to know the causes. During allergy season, people with allergies have an immune response, where the body reacts to being exposed to certain allergens the same way it would an infection. The immune system releases chemicals, called histamine and other substances that cause inflammation, to defend against the foreign invaders, which, in turn, can lead to an allergic reaction. The most common triggers for spring allergies include:
- Tree, grass and weed pollen
- Mold spores
- Dust mites and cockroach allergens
- Pet and rodent dander
Keep in mind not all types of allergies are limited to what’s swirling around in the air. Some forms of allergies can also trigger dangerous and even life-limiting asthma attacks. Although most people with allergies do not develop asthma, if you show symptoms or have already been diagnosed with asthma, speak with your doctor about an asthma management plan to better control symptoms.
Spring Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms tend to be more present during the spring, when breezy days pick up pollen from blooming trees and plants and carry it throughout the air you breathe. Contact your doctor if you experience the following symptoms of spring allergies to learn about treatment and management options:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Sneezing and coughing
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Nasal congestion and inflammation
- Sore throat
Spring allergies can be easily confused with cold symptoms. The best way to determine if you have allergies is to track your symptoms over time. If symptoms persist for more than 10 days, speak with your primary care physician about allergy testing and treatment.
Spring Allergy Home Remedies
Beyond taking medication prescribed by a doctor, there are practical ways to reduce your exposure to spring allergens. In addition to avoiding allergy triggers, when possible, survive spring allergy-free by considering the following steps for blocking the path of pollen and other airborne allergens into your home environment:
- Take over-the-counter allergy medication, such as an antihistamine, starting in mid- to late-February, before symptoms begin
- Vacuum and dust house frequently, especially air filters
- Wash pillows and bedding often and dry in dryer (versus hanging on a clothesline outside)
- Close your windows to reduce the chances of allergens entering your home
- Wash your hands, especially when working outdoors, and change out of outdoor clothing before going indoors
Spring Allergy Treatment
Unfortunately, not all spring allergies can be avoided with home remedies and precautionary measures. Those with mild or severe spring allergies will require additional care from a doctor to treat and manage allergy symptoms. Your doctor may administer the following treatments and procedures to diagnose and treat symptoms:
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots)
- Sublingual immunotherapy (allergy tablet given under the tongue)
- Pulmonary function testing
- Upper airway exam with a small camera
- Emergency epinephrine for severe reactions, especially if breathing or blood pressure are compromised
If additional treatment is the next step in easing your spring allergy symptoms and enjoying the vibrant new season ahead, the primary care physicians at UnityPoint Clinic are here to deliver the best plan of care to reduce the symptoms of allergies and can refer patients to an allergy specialist within our network if needed . Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a physician in your area, and receive the spring allergy treatment you need to finally say hello spring, goodbye allergies!