October 01, 2020

Seasonal allergies

Manage your irritating symptoms

You knew it was coming. Every fall when ragweed blooms, you experience weeks of itchy eyes, a runny nose and bouts of sneezing.

Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis — affect millions of Americans every year with discomforts such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and eyes that are watery or itchy. These symptoms can make it hard to breathe, get adequate sleep and focus on work — and they can make you more vulnerable to sinus infections or worsen underlying asthma.

You develop allergies because your immune system perceives something that is typically harmless — such as pollen — as harmful. This causes the immune system to generate immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that remain on the alert for that particular substance. The next time you breathe in pollen, these antibodies signal your immune system to release chemicals such as histamine, which lead to the signs and symptoms of allergies.

Tree pollen is most common in the early spring, grass pollen is prevalent in the late spring and summer, and ragweed pollen explodes during the fall. However, the lengths of the pollen seasons in North America can vary depending on the climate you live in.

You can manage your symptoms by reducing your exposure to allergens and using medications to relieve symptoms. If medications fail to provide sufficient relief, allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) — a treatment that helps you build up a tolerance to your allergens — may be an option.

Stay away from allergens

An obvious way to manage...