Why do I have allergies all year round?
While millions of Americans suffer from uncomfortable symptoms of seasonal allergies, millions more also suffer from year-round allergies (also commonly called perennial allergies).
Perennial allergies can often feel like a cold that just won’t go away or lingering flu-like symptoms. It’s also common for sufferers of perennial allergies to wonder, is it allergies or COVID-19?
Year-round allergy symptoms don’t care what season it is or if you’ve already suffered enough this year.
If left untreated, year-round allergies may lead to fatigue and other chronic conditions. Find out how to get tested for year-round allergies and how to manage and treat symptoms.
Unlike seasonal allergies, year-round allergies may trigger symptoms at any time of year — regardless of the season. These allergens are also called perennial allergies or perennial rhinitis.
They may be called perennial allergies, but symptoms can feel like a perennial pain in the neck.
If you suffer from allergies nine months of the year or more, you may have perennial allergic rhinitis. It’s estimated that between 20 and 40 million Americans suffer from this condition, and more and more people are experiencing year-round allergies each year.
Only 20% of allergic rhinitis sufferers in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies, while an estimated 40% suffer from perennial rhinitis and another 40% experience both seasonal and perennial rhinitis.
Seasonal allergies (as their name suggests) trigger symptoms seasonally. Perennial allergens can trigger symptoms any time of the year.
Seasonal allergens can include both outdoor allergens (such as pollen and grasses) and many indoor allergens (such as animals and dust mites).
Seasonal allergies are associated with (you guessed it!) different seasons.
Different allergens trigger symptoms in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. One of the most prevalent seasons for allergies is spring because a wide variety of plants and trees bloom in the spring and release pollen.
Spring allergies include allergies to triggers, such as tree pollen, grasses and weeds that bloom in the spring. Trees pollinate earlier in the spring and grasses do so later in the season.
According to Yale Medicine, 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children were diagnosed with hay fever in a 12-month period in 2020 and 2021.
Common pollinating trees that trigger allergies include:
Common grasses that trigger spring allergies include:
One of the most common allergy triggers in the summer is ragweed. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation, 15% of Americans present symptoms of ragweed allergies.
Since ragweed releases its pollen in the late summer and early fall, symptoms may begin in August and last until the first big frost. Ragweed season can last for up to 10 weeks.
Grass pollen is another big summer seasonal allergen.
Fall allergens include ragweed (which is considered a late-summer early-fall allergen) and mold.
Indoor allergies are also more likely to be triggered in the fall and winter, as this is the season in which we are most likely to close our windows and doors and turn off fans and air conditioners. Such allergies include pet, pest (insects and rodents) and mold allergies.
If you’re suffering from allergies for at least nine months out of the year, a medical professional may diagnose you with perennial allergies.
The most common perennial allergies include allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis, hormonal rhinitis and drug-induced rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common types of perennial allergies — though not all allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis are considered perennial. Kind of like how a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square.
Common perennial allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis include animals (such as pets and pests) and mold.
These allergens may trigger symptoms any time of year since their presence isn’t determined by seasonal conditions (such as the release of pollen).
Non-allergic rhinitis may be triggered by strong smells, such as perfume, cleaners, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust. These irritants may also exacerbate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
It may also be triggered by a viral infection or hormonal imbalances.
As its name suggests, drug-induced rhinitis is often triggered by drugs, such as beta-blockers, oral contraceptives, aspirin, ACE inhibitors, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and recreational drugs.
The foods most commonly associated with food-induced rhinitis or gustatory rhinorrhoea include spicy foods, alcohol and preservatives. People with this type of rhinitis may experience a runny or stuffy nose.
If you’re suffering from perennial allergies caused by indoor or outdoor allergens, you’ll want to get tested for common allergies. There are two types of allergy tests available, skin scratch and blood tests.
Skin scratch tests may be performed at an allergist’s office. A clinician will apply allergens in liquid form to the surface of the skin, lightly scratch the skin with a lancet and monitor the skin’s surface for reactions.
It usually takes around 30 minutes to apply the allergens and monitor the skin for reactions. Before getting a skin scratch test, you’ll need to stop taking allergy medications, including prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, some heartburn medications for up to seven days before the test.
A skin scratch test may also not be appropriate for anyone with certain skin conditions.
Another method of testing for allergies is a blood test. These tests can detect outdoor allergens (such as grasses, weeds and tree pollen), indoor allergens (such as dust mites and mold) and pet allergens.
FDA-approved tests like ImmunoCAP and Immulite tests report total IgE and specific allergen IgE or your immune system’s reactivity to allergens.
These tests are available at a clinical lab or at home.
If you’re willing to travel to get tested for allergies, you can always go to a clinical lab for testing (such as Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp).
A clinician will perform a blood draw and send the sample to be analyzed. These tests can detect more than 25 of the most common indoor and outdoor allergens, and your doctor can request more tests be added if necessary.
Results are usually available within five business days.
Don’t want to travel all over town to get tested for allergies? Allergy testing can now be done in the comfort of your own home or office.
Curex offers two types of at-home allergy testing, including an at-home self-test kit and a concierge testing service.
Our concierge testing service sends a clinician to your home or office to perform a blood draw. This IgE test uses ImmunoCAP technology and detects at least 25 of the most common allergies (you can always add more allergens to the test, too). You’ll get a report of total IgE and specific allergen IgE.
Results are available in three to five days.
If you feel comfortable taking your own blood sample, you may want to opt for Curex’s at-home self-test. All you need to do is order the test, follow the instructions to collect 10 drops of blood and send your sample to the lab in the mail.
This microarray lab-developed test is Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certified and detects 36 most common indoor & outdoor allergies.
Results are available within two weeks.
Have you already gotten your test results and just need a professional to review them?
Curex also offers a clinical review of existing results. Just upload your skin test or IgE blood test results, and a Curex clinician will review them and provide detailed information and discuss treatment options.
If you’ve been tested for allergies and discovered you have allergic rhinitis, there are a few treatment options available. The most common ways to prevent allergy symptoms are allergy medications, allergen avoidance and allergy immunotherapy.
Allergy medications are a popular way to treat the symptoms of allergies.
Antihistamines are available both over the counter and by prescription. They block histamine, preventing uncomfortable histamine-related symptoms, such as inflammation, itchy and watery eyes and sneezing. They are available in oral tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops.
Nasal sprays include Azelastine (an antihistamine) and Fluticasone (a corticosteroid). Saline drops are also available over the counter.
While allergy medications have shown effective at treating the symptoms of allergies, they don’t treat the cause of allergies and should be taken up to two weeks before the beginning of allergy season for maximum benefit. If you suffer from year-round allergies, you may need to take allergy medications daily or whenever your symptoms may be triggered.
Avoiding allergens can also prevent allergy symptoms. By avoiding allergens, you can also avoid the symptoms they trigger.
Common ways to avoid allergens include keeping pets contained in one room or area of the home, cleaning hard surfaces with a wet towel to avoid dust mites and avoiding the outdoors on days when pollen counts are high.
Yet, allergy avoidance may also mean you’ll need to avoid your pets, favorite outdoor activities or other people’s homes, too. While allergy avoidance can help prevent allergy symptoms, it’s not necessarily a viable long-term solution.
Allergy immunotherapy addresses allergies at their root cause — and doesn’t just prevent or treat their symptoms.
Immunotherapy introduces small amounts of allergens to the body, allowing the immune system to build a tolerance and stop seeing allergens as a threat.
Two types of allergy immunotherapy include subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) and sublingual allergy immunotherapy (under-the-tongue).
Allergy shots may be administered at an allergist’s office weekly during the build-up phase and monthly during the maintenance phase. Clinicians require you to stay for observation for up to 30 minutes after your appointment to monitor for anaphylaxis.
This means you could end up spending more than an hour per week at your allergist’s office getting allergy shots.
Curex’s at-home allergy immunotherapy may be self-administered (usually without clinician supervision as anaphylaxis is rarer. Doses only need to be administered once daily, under the tongue.
Take an allergy test at home or in a local lab to determine what’s causing your long-term allergy symptoms, and meet with Curex’s expert clinicians to receive a customized treatment plan.
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