Seasonal Allergies – What You Need to Know
Seasonal allergies are common around the globe and also referred to as hay fever. Depending on what someone is allergic to, they can occur during most seasons. People can identify seasonal allergies if they experience symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy/watery eyes, etc.
What months are allergy season?
Tree pollens can trigger hay fever in the late winter or spring, whereas, Ragweed pollens go out in the air in the fall and summer. The occurrence of allergy season also depends on geographical locations. For example, in Southern states of the US, allergy season can begin in late January and las through November.
How does a doctor diagnose an allergy?
Nothing is better than becoming aware of that you have allergies because it will help you avoid allergens (allergy triggers) and take appropriate medicine if you need to. For any allergy that lasts more than a day, it is advised to see an allergist – doctor specialized in allergies. According to the severity level, a patient undergoes a few tests.
It is the most common test to check for allergies as it provides accurate results quickly.
- The doctor or nurse puts a drop of an allergen on the patient’s skin.
- The doctor will also probably take other tests in the meanwhile.
- If the area where the allergen was dropped gets red and swells, it shows the patient is allergic to that allergen.
The results come out in about 15 minutes, according to which the doctor prescribes medicine.
If a patient has sensitive skin, is under medication that can affect the test results, or had a bad experience with a skin test, the doctor might recommend a blood test.
The patient’s blood sample is sent to a lab, and it takes a few days to get the results. If compared with a skin test, a blood test is more expensive.
How to differentiate between allergies and coronavirus?
You know what seasonal allergies feel like, and if you have a history with the same, you will know that. Nobody knows your body better than you. Cough, watery eyes, sneeze, etc. are common symptoms of seasonal allergies.
On the other hand, coronavirus damages your upper respiratory system first and then goes to the lower system causing more harm. Shortness of breath is a major symptom of coronavirus.
If you are experiencing any of the issues discussed above and you are not sure if it is an allergy or the coronavirus, the best you can do is isolate yourself and seek medical advice. Many healthcare institutions provide medical help at your doorstep. Consider them.
Carefully read the advisory below and keep it in mind - Source
Call your health care provider if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Please let your provider know if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. Your health care professional will evaluate you to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community:
- Stay home except to get medical care.
- Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
- Wear a facemask when seeking medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean your hands often.
- Avoid sharing personal household items.
- Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Continue home isolation.
Myths and facts about seasonal allergies
1 – Cut flowers can trigger allergies is a big myth: pollens released by weeds, grasses, and trees are responsible for triggering allergies. There have been almost 1% of allergy cases caused due to flowers.
2 – Honey is a remedy for seasonal allergies: no, it’s not! Its sweet taste only makes you feel good but not eases the symptoms of allergy.
3 – Beaches have no pollen: Not true! Beaches have pollen but in lower counts, and most beaches have grasses near them, so yes, pollens can fly around near beaches.
1 – Pollen counts can help predict allergy days: Yes, meteorologists measure the density of pollen in the air and can predict for how long it will remain. This can help you plan your outings accordingly.
2 – Rain lowers the pollen count: Yes, low temperature, humidity, and rain can lessen the effect of pollens. The best time for allergic people to go out is right after rains.
3 – Allergy shots can help: Though allergy shots cannot treat allergies, but can provide significant relief.
What triggers seasonal allergies?
The most common reason behind allergies during fall is ragweed. This wild plant can easily be found almost anywhere, but it most commonly grows in the Midwest and the East Coast. It releases pollen in between Aug and Nov. Also, in many US areas, its pollen levels are highest in September.
Other plants responsible for triggering fall allergies:
- Tumbleweed and Russian thistle
- Sagebrush and mugwort
- Burning bush
Let’s also read about some climate factors that can affect allergies symptoms:
- Grass, ragweed, and tree pollens grow during warm days and cold nights.
- In the heat and due to high humidity, molds can grow quickly and intensify allergies.
- Airborne allergens are less effective on days with no wind.
- Pollen counts are higher on windy and warm days.
Experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms? Check out these ways to prevent or treat them
1. Clear out your nose regularly
Use salt water to rinse your nose as it is a very natural way to clean it. It helps remove pollen and other impurities that stick to nose walls. Irrigating your nose might turn out to be better than nasal sprays.
2. Try a topical allergy medicine
Over-the-counter medicines are useful in blocking histamine that triggers itching, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
3. Consider nasal spray and eye drops
Steroid nasal sprays reduce swelling inside the nose, providing you relief from nasal allergy. You can also consider antihistamine nasal sprays. They block histamine. Eye drops can soothe the watery, itchy eyes, which is a result of allergic conjunctivitis - common eye allergies.
Note: Use them only if your doctor prescribes it.
4. Close your windows
Yes, it is good to breathe in the fresh air, but not when you’re allergic to outdoor allergens. If you are, it would be best for you to keep your windows closed to prevent potential allergies.
5. Visit an allergist
When things go out of your hands, it is recommended to visit an allergist as they would (as per your condition) give you allergy shots. These shots can help reduce multiple symptoms and can be very useful for people who haven’t found desirable results using other medicines.
As spring season has already begun in the US and currently the country and the entire world is fighting against coronavirus, many people are having issues like cough, nasal congestion, etc. This is making it difficult for them to determine if it is a seasonal allergy or a common cold or the COVID – 19.
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