Seasonal allergies affect more than 50 million Americans each year. So what is a seasonal allergy sufferer to do?
There are many steps you can take to reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms, and starting early is one of the best ways to do so.
This means preparing yourself and your home for allergy seasons, beginning your usual allergy treatment before the spring season, or (if you are a first-time sufferer) taking the right medication at the first sign of symptoms. When the first wave of seasonal pollen hits, thorough preparation is your best protection.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms on your own (and with the help of a Curex allergy expert by your side).
Do you feel like your spring allergies seem to stretch from spring through the summer and into the fall? (You’re right!)
Some allergy sufferers are even starting to notice that their symptoms are suddenly affecting them all year round. Others — who have never experienced seasonal allergy symptoms in their life — are feeling them for the first time, too.
There are a few risk factors that may be contributing to the severity of seasonal allergy symptoms. While higher-than-usual pollen counts may partially be to blame, there are also other environmental issues that may not only make allergies worse — but could also lengthen allergy seasons.
If your seasonal allergies seem worse this year, there are a few risk factors that may be to blame. In addition to climate change causing earlier spring and summer seasons, pollution, air quality and geographic location may all play a major role in allergy risk factors, too.
Experts predict that by 2040, soaring pollen counts due to climate change will nearly double their current levels.
This trend of a warmer planet leading to more robust plant growth has led to earlier, longer and more intense allergy seasons.
When temperatures start to rise earlier than usual in the spring, the plants, flowers and trees may bloom earlier, too. And it’s not just warmer temperatures in the spring that are to blame, either.
Warmer winters may lead to higher pollen counts. If winter temperatures don’t get cold enough, plants (such as stinging nettle) that usually die in freezing temperatures may grow overabundantly in the spring and summer.
Scientists believe birch trees (another major pollen spreader) may be spreading at an abundant rate also.
Higher levels of carbon dioxide may cause an increase in ragweed pollen levels, too.
Both pollution and air quality can greatly affect allergy symptoms. Pollution and smog can worsen respiratory conditions, such as allergies and asthma.
If you’re struggling to breathe because of pollution, adding allergies to the mix isn’t going to help the situation.
Pollution itself has the ability to hold and transport particles through the air. Such particles may include dust and pollen — two known allergens.
Similar to allergies, smog and pollution also cause inflammation, meaning you may experience a double dose of swelling and puffiness if you live in an area with poor air quality.
Before leaving the house, check pollution levels. Most weather apps and websites post pollution levels daily. If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions, you may already be checking pollution and air quality levels.
If you live in the Northeast, you may notice your allergies acting up more in the spring and fall if you’re allergic to mold, ragweed and tree pollen. If you live in a climate that’s warm year-round, you may notice your grass allergies acting up. If you live in a city, you may notice your allergy symptoms simply worsen.
That’s because geography can play a major role in allergies. Allergens that are abundant in certain cities and states may be more of a nuisance if you happen to live in those areas of the country.
Unfortunately, you may not have the luxury of packing up your stuff and moving to the desert (would you really want to anyway?), but you can make allergy seasons more bearable by making a few lifestyle changes, switching allergy medications and trying preventative measures such as allergy immunotherapy.
Anyone with allergies can usually list their symptoms without batting a (puffy, red, watery) eye. When the immune system comes in contact with an allergen, it releases histamines that cause inflammation, redness, itching, and more.
Some of the most common seasonal allergy symptoms include ocular, nasal and respiratory issues.
Airborne pollen can blow into your eyes. It can also transfer from your hands to your eyes if you touch your face.
Common ocular allergy symptoms may include dryness, itching, watering, inflammation and redness. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may also experience burning sensations, too.
Wearing glasses (especially large, wrap-around ones) may help keep pollen from blowing into your eyes on a windy day.
Nasal allergy symptoms are common — especially with airborne allergens, such as pollen.
When you inhale oxygen, you also inhale anything that happens to be lingering in the air, too, including pollution, dust, sand particles, heavy metals and even allergens.
Nasal allergy symptoms can be especially uncomfortable, as allergens can get caught in mucus membranes in your nose, sinuses and nasal passages. Common nasal allergy symptoms may include itching, sneezing, runny nose, inflammation, stuffy nose, sinus pressure, redness and more.
Wearing a mask can help prevent pollen from getting into your nose and mouth.
Airborne allergens that end up in your nose and mouth can also be breathed into your lungs.
This can cause respiratory symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, scratchy throat and more.
These respiratory symptoms may be worsened by other irritants and inflammatories in the air, such as pollution and smog.
If you already suffer from respiratory issues, you may want to avoid going outside on days with high pollen counts or high pollution counts.
While less common than the typical inflammation, redness, itching, irritation and watering, allergies may cause other symptoms, too.
Some of the symptoms allergy sufferers report may be related to allergy medications, such as antihistamines and steroids. Yet, these symptoms may also be caused by the allergies themselves. Other symptoms include:
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, you may want to get tested for allergies — especially if you have any of these less-common symptoms in conjunction with the more common ocular, respiratory, and nasal symptoms.
The good news is that there are several ways to address allergy symptoms. You may want to be tested for allergies to ensure your symptoms don’t point to other respiratory conditions.
After being tested, treatment and prevention options may include over-the-counter or prescription medication, avoiding exposure and allergy immunotherapy.
Reducing seasonal allergy symptoms begins with identifying your allergic triggers.
You may already have a sense of which allergies you suffer from because year after year you experience the same symptoms.
The biggest culprits tend to be spring and fall allergies. In the spring, this means tree pollen and grasses, and in the fall, weeds and ragweed.
If you don’t know your allergy triggers, you can get tested.
Your options are a traditional allergy scratch test at an allergy doctor’s office or an at-home test, which tests for IgE to allergens, via a small blood sample collected at home, which is what we offer here at Curex.
Studies have shown that the cornerstone of reducing allergy symptoms is controlling exposure.
Once you have identified your allergic triggers, whether from a scratch test in your doctor’s office, a blood test at a lab or Curex’s at-home allergy test, you can begin to proactively reduce exposure.
A key step is to follow your local pollen counts. When the allergen counts are high, it’s a good time to avoid being outside for long periods of time and keep your windows closed in your car and at home. Eye protection and a mask can help as well.
Reducing seasonal allergy symptoms is in your hands — literally!
When you walk through the front door, change and put the day’s pollen-covered clothing into a laundry basket. Similarly, leave your shoes at the door. You don’t want to track that pollen throughout your house.
Before bed, shower, making it a point to wash your hair, rinse out your nose with saline spray and gently wipe your eyelids and lashes. Do not sleep with windows open, as allergies may negatively affect your sleep.
Pets can make your seasonal allergies worse by bringing pollen into the home. Long-haired pets in particular are likely to be covered in pollen after a walk.
Brush pets down often, vacuum your home with a HEPA device and invest in a decent air purifier, also with HEPA certification. Always wear a mask while cleaning, and wash your hands after. Keep pets out of your bedroom as well.
Lifestyle modifications and environmental changes at home help immensely.
But once you know what you’re allergic to, it’s a good idea to see a board-certified allergy specialist to treat your allergies.
With the help of Curex, this can be done in the comfort of your own home. Curex allergists are experts who may help you efficiently treat your symptoms with a variety of options, including immunotherapy, over-the-counter prescriptions and lifestyle recommendations.
A recent MASK study looked at nearly 10,000 allergy sufferers globally and affirmed that effective therapies for allergy treatment include oral antihistamines, intranasal steroid sprays and antihistamine nasal sprays and eye drops.
Yet for many people, confusion still abounds. Which over-the-counter allergy medications are best? Which ones actually work? And how should you use them? The allergy aisle of the pharmacy can be overwhelming with all the choices.
Tapping an allergy provider for advice can help navigate the sea of over-the-counter and prescription allergy treatments that most efficiently reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
As allergy seasons intensify, people are often left feeling that the current treatment isn’t working — or patients complain they’re simply sick of taking so many medications.
In this case, Allergy immunotherapy, a long-established treatment, could help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. This treatment provides lasting relief by retraining your body’s immune system to develop resistance to allergies.
Also referred to as allergy shots, subcutaneous immunotherapy is another way to start such treatments.
Allergy shots introduce allergens in increasing doses through frequent, small injections into the fatty area of the arm.
The shots are administered in a doctor’s office and then followed by an observation period of up to 45 minutes to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
Like allergy shots, Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) exposes the body to gradually increasing doses of an allergen over time. This increases tolerance to the allergen and may reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. With SLIT, the allergen is placed under the tongue.
This type of allergy immunotherapy is also prescribed by a doctor. But more conveniently, it is self-administered at home — and may even be safer because patients experience fewer reactions.
With Curex sublingual immunotherapy, you may be able to enjoy the spring and resume normal outdoor activities.
The cornerstone of this is working with a board-certified allergy specialist to help efficiently address and treat your allergies through tandem offerings including environmental controls, medication and immunotherapy.
Curex allergy experts provide the latest, leading clinical expertise, care, and patient service.
Curex’s team will carefully go through your history and testing to develop a plan that can include these immunotherapy options.