Each spring, as cold weather gives way, we’re drawn outside to enjoy warmer temperatures. The trees and flower blossoms are a welcome reprieve from gray, dreary winter days.
For people who suffer from seasonal allergies, though, the beauty of spring foliage comes at a price—allergic reactions to trees, grasses and weeds.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Allergy symptoms are caused by an overactive immune system that reacts to otherwise harmless substances in the environment like mold or types of pollen. Pollen refers to the tiny grains released by trees, grasses and weeds to fertilize other plants.
The immune system misinterprets pollen as a threat and releases antibodies to attack the airborne allergens. This releases histamines into the blood, triggering common allergy symptoms like a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
In the United States, seasonal allergies occur most frequently in the spring, when trees, grass and weeds pollinate. Spring allergies can depend on the weather where you live. In many areas they begin in February and last until early summer.
Tree pollen is usually released earliest, followed by grass pollen in late spring and summer. Ragweed is the most common cause of late summer and fall allergies. Mold spores often cause allergies during spring, summer and fall.
Common Allergy Symptoms
If you frequently feel like you’re getting sick, with a stuffy head or cough, the actual culprit could be allergies. Especially if symptoms last longer than a week or two, it’s worth talking to your health care provider.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Itchy eyes, nose, ears and mouth
- Nasal congestion or stuffy nose
- Runny nose (rhinorrhea, a clear, thin nasal discharge)
- Red and watery eyes
Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies
Skin testing, also called skin prick test or SPT, or allergen-specific blood test (specific IgE blood test) can indicate the source of your allergy.
Another clue may be the time of year your symptoms develop. Also consider whether relatives suffer from allergies, since this condition can run in families.
How to Avoid Allergy Triggers
- Watch pollen counts and forecasts, available on weather apps or news reports. Stay indoors as much as possible on days with high counts.
- Wear an N-95 mask when doing yardwork or other outdoor activities if necessary.
- Keep windows and doors closed during allergy season to limit the amount of pollen coming inside.
- Don’t drive with your car windows open.
- Wear wraparound glasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
- Change clothes after coming in from spending time outside, and rinse off or take a shower if possible.
- Brush your pets when they come inside to remove allergens from their fur.
- Don’t dry your clothes on an outdoor clothesline.
Natural Remedies for Allergies
Even if you do a great job of avoiding allergy triggers, you may wind up with symptoms. That doesn’t mean you have to suffer.
Over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, prescription allergy medicines and immunotherapy allergy shots can ease symptoms of seasonal allergies. Like any medicines, these can have undesirable side effects.
It is possible to get relief from seasonal allergies with natural remedies. Nasal irrigation with a neti pot is a great first step to help clear out mucus and open the sinuses.
Local honey has long been used as a remedy for seasonal allergies. Traditionally, medicinal herbs such a butterbur and stinging nettle are helpful for allergy relief. Other alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, may help reduce symptoms.
Some trusted natural remedies for allergies can be found here. Two favorites are Mucus-Clear™ and AllergiClear-S™:
Mucus-Clear™ is a 100% homeopathic allergy relief remedy formulated to temporarily relieve sinus pressure, nasal congestion and sinus headache.
AllergiClear-S™ is an herbal remedy for allergies formulated to promote respiratory, skin and immune health related to allergy symptoms.
How to Boost Your Immune System
Cold, Flu, COVID-19, or Seasonal Allergies? How to Tell the Difference
- “Seasonal Allergies.” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/seasonal-allergies/
- “What triggers seasonal allergies?” NIH MedlinePlus Magazine. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://magazine.medlineplus.gov/article/what-triggers-seasonal-allergies
- “Pollen Allergy.” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. March 23, 2022. https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/
- Watson, Stephanie. “How to Handle Your Spring Allergies.” WebMD. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/spring-allergies