Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies are a group of conditions that can cause sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, and itchy eyes. Seasonal allergies are sometimes called "hay fever."
Symptoms occur only at certain times of the year. Most seasonal allergies are caused by:
  • Pollens from trees, grasses, or weeds
  • Mold spores, which grow when the weather is humid, wet, or damp
 
Normally, people breathe in these substances without a problem. When a person has a seasonal allergy, his or her immune system acts as if the substance is harmful to the body. This causes symptoms.
Many people first get seasonal allergies when they are children or young adults. Seasonal allergies are lifelong, but symptoms can get better or worse over time. Seasonal allergies sometimes run in families.
Some people have symptoms like those of seasonal allergies, but their symptoms last all year. Year-round symptoms are usually caused by:
  • Insects, such as dust mites and cockroaches
  • Animals, such as cats and dogs
  • Mold spores
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Related Symptoms
  • Itchy or red eyes
  • Sore throat, or itching of the throat or ears
  • Stuffy nose, runny nose, or sneezing a lot
  • Waking up at night or trouble sleeping, which can lead to feeling tired during the day
Common Treatments
People with seasonal allergies might use one or more of the following treatments to help reduce their symptoms:
  • Nose rinses – Rinsing out the nose with salt water cleans the inside of the nose and gets rid of pollen in the nose. Different devices can be used to rinse the nose.
  • Steroid nose sprays – Healthcare providers often recommend these sprays first, because they are the best treatment for stuffy nose. Many of these sprays are available without a prescription. (Steroid nose sprays do not contain the same steroids that some athletes take illegally). Steroid nose sprays work best if you use them every day, and it can take a few days for them to work fully. Steroid nose sprays are more effective than other allergy medicines for stuffy nose and post-nasal drip (which is when mucus runs down the back of your throat).
  • Antihistamines – These medicines help stop itching, sneezing, and runny nose symptoms. They don't treat stuffy nose as well as steroid nose sprays. Some antihistamines can make people feel tired.
  • Antihistamine eye drops – These medicines are available without a prescription. They can help with eyes that feel itchy or gritty.
  • Decongestants – These medicines can reduce stuffy nose symptoms. People with certain health problems, such as high blood pressure, should not take decongestants. Also, people should not use decongestant nose sprays for more than 3 days in a row. Using these nose sprays for more than 3 days in a row can make symptoms worse.
  • Allergy shots – Some people with seasonal allergies choose to get allergy shots. Usually, allergy shots are given every week or month by an allergy doctor. They contain tiny amounts of allergens, such as pollen. Many people find that this treatment reduces their symptoms, but it can take months to work.
  • Allergy pills (under the tongue) – For some types of pollen allergies, there are pills that work much like allergy shots. These pills need to be prescribed by a doctor. They are made to dissolve under the tongue. They are taken every day for several months of the year.
 
Talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about the benefits and downsides of the different treatments. The right treatment for you will depend a lot on your symptoms and other health problems. It is also important to talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about when and how to use your medicines.
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