As we head into the fall season and hay fever once again approaches, there's a strong possibility that your allergies
will start acting up. Allergy symptoms occur when your body's immune system overreacts to certain substances—known as allergens—that are typically harmless, like pollen, mites, certain foods or even insect stings, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
. Each season is accompanied by a different set of allergens that may possibly act as triggers for the typical allergy symptoms: itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and the like. These symptoms can range in intensity from mild to severe, maybe even causing you to experience that “sick” feeling. It's important to understand what each season entails in the way of allergens so you can take proper preventative measures to ensure that these symptoms don't hit you so hard.
When the frigid air starts to blow through and you start seeing the first tiny snowflakes emerge from the sky, it's likely that you'll be spending more time indoors and away from the cold, outside world—a prime place for you to pick up indoor allergies that may be lurking in your home. Some of these triggers may come from dust mites, mold and even any pets that you have. Dust mites can hide in bedding, like your blankets, mattresses and couches. When their droppings and body parts get into the air, this can often cause your allergies to start acting up. While you might be tempted to cuddle up with your furry friend on those cold winter days, they might be contributing to your allergies as well. A specific protein found in pet urine, saliva and dander can provoke allergies, according to Laura J. Martin, M.D.
, and this can induce an annoying runny nose along with sneezing and itching.
While spring is usually a time of celebration, when everyone wanders out of hibernation to see the first glimpse of the sun after a long winter, it is also a time when allergens often pop up and wreak havoc on us in the form of hay fever. Along with the green grass and blue skies of spring comes an influx of pollen, which is released by trees, weeds and grass and acts as a fertilizer for other plants. In addition to pollen, spring is also a prime time for tree offenders, like ash, box elder, cedar, elm, pine and sycamore, to name a few. When pollen and other allergens make their way up into your nose and into your respiratory system, symptoms often pop up. Springtime allergies can manifest through different ways, like dark circles under your eyes, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing.
If you thought the horrors of pollen were restricted to only spring, you're sadly mistaken. An abundance of pollen carries over into the summer, which is probably a time you're least looking forward to dealing with allergy symptoms; pollen can definitely put a damper on your enjoyment of the rejuvenating warm weather and sunshine. Many weather channels offer a pollen forecast, and on days when the pollen count is high, it's advisable to avoid the outdoors—especially when it's windy—for long periods of time to prevent rousing your immune response. Weeds are also some of the catalysts that bring about summer allergy symptoms, and ragweed, pigweed, sagebrush and tumbleweed are four of the most common culprits. In addition to weeds, the summer air, containing ozone pollutants, can amplify allergy symptoms. On days when your local weather forecaster mentions air quality alerts, it's critical that you take caution when you're outside and breathing heavily polluted air.
As the leaves change colors, so do fall allergy triggers. Ragweed is typically the most prevalent natural allergen in the fall, as it starts to release pollen in August and lasts until September and October. As with other allergens, ragweed loves to make its presence known, traveling in the wind hundreds of miles away to bother you and ruin your day. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America
, if you're allergic to ragweed, you may also become agitated by foods like bananas, cucumbers, melons and zucchini—something that is called oral allergy syndrome. In addition to ragweed, mold spores and mildew that inhabit wet areas outside can kick your immune response into overdrive during the fall months. Hay fever often recurs in the fall as well, causing the same runny nose, sneezing and watery eye symptoms that often strike forcefully in the spring. When you're outside enjoying the crispness of the fall air, it's important to be aware of the environmental allergens that may cause you to start feeling lousy again.
Ways to Prevent and Treat Allergy Symptoms
It's always a good idea to first visit your doctor or allergist for an allergy test. These are performed when your doctor deposits a tiny amount of a potential allergen on your skin and waits for an allergic reaction to form. Allergy tests can determine what triggers your immune response the most and help influence the direction you decide to go in the way of preventing and treating symptoms. Nasal sprays, decongestants
and antihistamines can all help nasal allergy symptoms, like runny nose, sneezing and inflammation. Additionally, the herbal supplement butterbur has been shown to inhibit leukotriene, which helps to prevent your nasal passages from swelling, according to David Kiefer, M.D.
Sometimes allergy shots may be your best route in building up tolerance to harmless allergens. When you're in your house or in the car, try to use air conditioning whenever possible to avoid allowing allergens inside. Keep your air vents clean, regulate the air in your house with either a humidifier or dehumidifier, and if you're exposed to spores, use a mask to prevent them from getting into your nose and lungs.
Seasonal allergies can be a pain to deal with, but there are many great options available to treat and prevent them. Check out our natural allergy product section at eVitamins and have a great day!