Reducing Your Spring and Summer Allergy Symptoms

The return to spring is often a welcome change of seasons, but it can be challenging for those who live with diagnosed and undiagnosed allergies.

As plants begin to bloom, pollen is released into the air. The two biggest culprits at this time are trees and grass. In northwest Ohio, tree pollen allergies usually begin in March and last until the end of May. Grass pollen begins in early May and can last all summer. If it’s a particularly rainy spring and summer, there may be high counts of mold spores, which can also contribute to seasonal allergy issues.

Typical symptoms include frequent sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and a runny, stuffy or drippy nose.

Lifestyle Changes

For those with allergies, lifestyle changes may help reduce exposure and symptoms. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your windows closed. Whether you’re driving with the windows down or enjoying the spring breeze throughout your house, the fresh air is an opportunity for outdoor pollen to agitate your allergies. Keep your windows closed and use air conditioning as needed.
  • Plan your time outside. If you exercise outdoors or like to garden, look at the pollen counts and plan your activities accordingly. A pollen count of ten or less is considered low, 10-100 is medium and above 100 is a high pollen count. Pollen counts are generally highest in the morning and in the late evening.
  • Wash the pollen away. When you come in from the outdoors, take off your shoes and jacket. Shower and wash your hair, particularly before going to bed, otherwise the pollen will stay on your clothes and bed.
  • Take your medications regularly. Children, in particular, may not always get their medications on a regular basis as parents may only give them medicine when the allergy symptoms are bad. If you know the allergy season has started and will go on for some time, give your child their medication on a daily basis to keep symptoms at bay.

Treatment Options

If seasonal allergies are affecting your quality of life, it’s time to talk with your primary care provider or specialist. A board-certified allergy specialist can help identify what you’re allergic to and look at all the treatment options.

Non-sedating antihistamines are typically the first choice of medication given to people with allergies. For some, these may not be enough. Decongestants may be recommended, but because they may raise your blood pressure, they aren’t good to take long-term. Allergy eye drops are very effective and can also be used on an as-needed basis

Nasal steroid sprays may be effective with symptoms, including sneezing, itching, congestion and stuffiness. They also get to the area where you need the medication, without any systemic side effects. Using a nasal saline irrigations, such as a Neti Pot, a couple times a day may also help reduce symptoms.

When these don’t work, allergy immunotherapy may be recommended to desensitize the immune system to tolerate the allergens. These can be done as allergy shots or under the tongue (sublingual) tablets for some allergies. The benefit of allergy immunotherapy is that it can help reduce allergy symptoms, decrease medication needs and improve quality of life.

Learn more about allergy testing and treatment at ProMedica.