Allergies by Season & How to Treat
Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies in the spring when budding flowers and trees cause dreaded symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion and more. While springtime is the most known for allergy symptoms, each season presents its own set of seasonal allergies that impact our daily lives.
Spring Allergy Season
The biggest culprit of seasonal allergies in the spring is pollen. As plants release pollen, individuals with hay fever begin to suffer allergy symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing. Pollen is released by trees, grasses and weeds, making it hard to get away from.
Allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing are caused by histamines. Since the immune system thinks pollen is a danger, it releases antibodies to attack it — this is what causes histamines to be released in the blood. Histamine then trigger allergy symptoms.1
Summer Allergy Season
Unfortunately, pollen doesn’t stop when the calendar hits the last day of spring. Grasses and weeds continue to trigger allergy symptoms, with ragweed being the most common allergy trigger during the summer months.1
Symptoms may seem worse during the summer allergy season as well due to air pollution. Summer Ozone clouds are created around some areas as a result of the sunlight and summer winds.1
Pollen isn’t the only culprit of summer allergies. Dust mites are microscopic insects that thrive in the summer months. These microscopic insects nest in fabrics, and when their residue is released into the air, it can cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and even wheezing.1
Fall Allergy Season
The biggest trigger for fall seasonal allergies is ragweed which impacts about 75% of those individuals who suffer from spring seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, ragweed pollen can be taken in the wind for hundreds of miles, so it can affect you even if it isn’t in your specific region.2
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis), which refers to “late summer allergies,” is caused by ragweed and can trigger fall seasonal allergies and symptoms until a hard freeze occurs. And on the topic of weather, Indian summers can make allergies even worse as lingering warm weather make hay fever symptoms last longer.3
Winter Allergy Season
Seasonal allergies in the winter are not caused by pollen like other seasons. Instead, indoor allergies take the lead, including those to mold and dust mites.
How does mold cause seasonal allergies in the winter? When you turn your furnace on during winter months, dust and mold spores are sent into the air. These tiny particles can then make their way into your nose and trigger allergies.4
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
While the trigger or cause of seasonal allergies may change throughout the seasons, the common symptoms remain the same. However, there are some unique symptoms of allergies that do affect some individuals.
Common Allergy Symptoms
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eye
Severe Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal Allergies Cause Tooth Pain
Allergy symptoms that cause congestion and pressure in the sinuses can in turn cause pressure elsewhere in the head. The upper molar root tips are close to the sinuses, so this sinus pressure may affect the upper molars, causing pain and inflammation.5
To prevent seasonal allergies causing tooth pain, it is best to reduce time spent outdoors during times of high-pollen, as well as taking natural or prescribed medications to help suppress the release of histamines which cause allergy symptoms. Supplements including bioflavonoids help manage allergy symptoms as their chemical structure is like that of what is used in asthma inhalers and reduces the body’s release of histamine.
Seasonal Allergies Cause Issues with Contacts Lenses
Common allergy symptoms result in eye irritation, dryness and may cause conjunctivitis. Wearing contact lenses while experiencing these symptoms is extremely uncomfortable or even impossible. And if you are wearing contact lenses and the symptom causing particles get in your eye, such as pollen or dander, the symptoms can be even worse. Due to this, there is a link between Lasik and seasonal allergies.
Lasik eye surgery is a process of the “precise and controlled removal of corneal tissue by a special laser [to reshape] the cornea, changing its focus power,” explains the FDA. The result of LASIK is enhanced vision and either no need or a reduced need to wear corrective lenses. This corrective eye surgery allows those suffering allergy symptoms to no longer have to deal with corrective lenses on top of the ocular symptoms, creating the link between LASIK and seasonal allergies.
Seasonal Allergies Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes
Part of your lymphatic system, lymph nodes transport the lymph fluid throughout the body and are crucial to the immune system. During this process, fluid, waster material, viruses and bacteria are collection from the tissues and sent to the lymph nodes where they are filtered.6
When a lymph node is working to filter out pathogens, it can swell. Primary care physician Susan Besser, M.D. explained, “An upper respiratory infection, a cold, allergies — all can cause lymph nodes to swell as the body responds to immunologic ‘crisis.’” The lymph nodes that are most noticeable are those that are closer to the surface of the skin and are “on the neck, under the jaw around the throat, or behind the ears.”6
Seasonal allergies don’t typically cause swollen lymph nodes unless they are very severe. However, swollen lymph nodes are more likely to occur as a result of secondary infection such as a sinus infection. If you do experience swollen lymph nodes, it is advised to take an antihistamine to help reduce allergy symptoms.6
How to Combat Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies occur every year so it’s impossible to avoid them; however, there are some things you can do to help combat allergies and their symptoms when it comes to your diet and environment.
Adjust your Environment to Reduce Exposure
It may seem like obvious advice but reducing your exposure to allergens can help reduce your allergy symptoms. When seasonal allergies are high, be sure to have the windows of your home closed and opt for air conditioning instead of fresh air. You may also add a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment to your air conditioner which helps to trap airborne allergens including pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold.7
On this same note, do not hang laundry outside during allergy season or you are bringing the symptom triggers inside.
Utilize Clothing & Accessories for Protection
Another suggestion that may seem overtly simple is to wear clothing and accessories to help protect your body from exposure to allergy triggers. To try to keep pollen out of your eyes and hair during allergy season, or on high pollen days, be sure to wear a hat and sunglasses. Once you come indoors, remove the clothing.
If you typically shower in the morning, you may want to switch your routine during allergy season! Showering before bed will help to prevent the pollen from being transferred to your sheets and bedding. You should also wash the bedding on a weekly basis and be sure to not hang laundry outside as pollen will stick to your sheets and other clothing.7
Adjust Your Diet to Include Citrus Bioflavonoids
There are certain foods with anti-allergic properties that can help to prevent symptoms. Found in vegetables, fruits and teas, flavonoids possess these anti-allergic properties. They prevent histamine release, and histamine is responsible for your seasonal allergy symptoms.8
Citrus Bioflavonoids have specific benefits as they relate to seasonal allergies. Studies suggest that citrus bioflavonoids may help manage seasonal allergies related to pollen, and they also complement Vitamin C, helping to reduce inflammation caused by allergies.7
You can still enjoy the benefits of citrus bioflavonoids without eating the specific foods their found in. Taking a daily bioflavonoid supplements allows you to enjoy the histamine blocking properties of this plant-derived compound.
Getting Through Allergy Season
Avoiding allergens through lifestyle changes and adding minerals to your diet like bioflavonoids to prevent histamine release should help to reduce your allergy symptoms. There are several over-the-counter medications available to treat allergy symptoms, but it is always recommended to check with your doctor or healthcare professional before taking any new medication.