Seasonal allergy symptoms and how to manage them

Seasonal allergy symptoms and how to manage them

Allergies are among the most chronic conditions worldwide. Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, plus dust and animal dander float through the air throughout most of year. These particles can end up in our eyes, noses and throats and cause sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, and congestion. Pollen allergies, or seasonal allergies, affect one out of 10 people in the U.S. In some cases, allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms.

For some, allergy symptoms can be controlled by using over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. Other allergy sufferers may have reactions that more seriously disrupt their quality of life. Allergies can also trigger or worsen asthma and lead to other health problems such as sinus infection (sinusitis) and ear infections in children.

Dr. Stephen Sorsby, QualChoice Medical Director, says, "It can be difficult to tell the difference between a cold and allergies since many of the symptoms overlap. With allergies, it would be unusual to have fever, sore throat, aches and yellow drainage. Those are symptoms associated with a common cold. Also, colds usually do not last more than 14 days. Allergies may be seasonal or may occur all year long and produce a clear mucous drainage and often sufferers have itchy, watery eyes.

Currently, in early spring, tree pollen is in the air. Later in the spring and into summer grass pollen will likely be the culprit of allergy symptoms.

How to manage allergy symptoms right now

  • Pay attention to pollen and mold counts. These counts measure the amount of allergens present in the air.{} Many weather websites and smartphone applications offer this information. You can also sign up through the National Allergy Bureau to receive a personalized email with pollen and mold levels for your geographic area.


  • Avoid pollen as much as possible. You can do this by staying indoors when pollen or mold counts are high, keeping windows closed at night and, if possible, using air conditioning. Also, avoid hanging sheets or clothes outside to dry when counts are high.


  • When travelling, keep vehicle windows closed.


  • Always take any medications prescribed by your allergist.


  • Shampoo and shower nightly to rinse the pollens from your skin and hair.


  • Change your clothing before entering your bedroom to reduce pollens from being brought in.


  • Gently irrigate your eyelids (while your eyes are closed) with a mild, tear free "baby" shampoo to remove excess allergens and pollutants that may have accumulated.

Sorsby says, "It's important to get your seasonal allergies confirmed by a doctor. If necessary, your physician can perform allergy tests to pinpoint your problem. Always start early with allergy treatment. Many medications will work better (nasal antihistamines/steroids, oral antihistamines and eye drops) if you start them before symptoms begin."

When you should get professional allergy treatment:

You should see an allergist/immunologist if you experience allergies for the first time, you don't find relief with OTC drugs or you experience allergy systems over a long period of time.

Information sourced from QualChoice medical personnel, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Christy Garrett, Director of Marketing & Business Development

QualChoice of Arkansas