Are You Allergic? Seasonal Allergies 101

It’s that time of year again – flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and allergies are in full swing. For some people, this means a few sneezes and a runny nose. For others it can result in a full-blown asthma attack or a weeks-long battle with sinus infections. So how do you know if you’re one of the unlucky ones with allergies?

Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, are a type of allergy that occur at specific times of the year. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “more than 50 million Americans live with various types of allergies every year”[1].

When patients suffer from allergies in the spring through early summer, they are most likely allergic to a specific variety of plant or tree pollen, such as grasses, ragweed, oak, ash, elm, pine, pecan, hickory, poplar, and walnut trees. Allergies that occur in mid-to-late summer are usually triggered by grasses, such as Ryegrass, Timothy grass, Bermuda grass, and some types of weeds. Seasonal allergic reactions in the fall usually involve ragweed, although Central Texas is not hard hit as some other parts of the country. And finally, winter allergies in Central Texas are fueled by Ashe juniper trees, more widely known as mountain cedar. This powder pollen from these trees gets airborne and causes severe reactions for many people, with this condition being called “cedar fever” based on symptoms being similar to that of the flu or common cold.

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of seasonal allergies will vary from person to person, although common symptoms include:

  • Itchy, watery, and red eyes
  • Scratchy mouth, nose, and throat
  • Circles under eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Ear infections (more common in children)

Although it’s common for people to refer to season allergies as “hay fever” – that is technically incorrect. The main difference between these two terms is that “hay fever” is used more specifically for summer allergies, while “seasonal allergies” collectively refers to all types of allergic reactions that occur throughout the year.

Also, keep in mind that certain factors/irritants may not cause allergic reaction but can make allergy symptoms more pronounced, such as:

  • Mold
  • Fungus
  • Animal dander
  • Animal fur
  • Dust mites
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfumes
  • Wood smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Changes in temperature/humidity

How Does Pollen Cause Seasonal Allergies?

Grass and tree pollens are responsible for most seasonal allergies, as many plant species in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas are wind pollinated. Tiny, light pollen grains easily travel in the air and can get in your home or office through open door windows or tracked in on hair, clothes, furniture, or other personal items of the space’s inhabitants.

An allergic reaction is a body’s overactive response from their immune system that occurs when pollen enters the body through the nose or mouth. These pollen spores are mistaken by the body to be a threat which releases natural histamines. This release triggers the classic allergy symptoms – sneezing, itchy eyes, cough, runny nose, etc.

Health Issues from Seasonal Allergies

Allergies can lead to additional health concerns if symptoms are not address correctly or the reactions are severe. These conditions can include:

  • Allergic Rhinitis – Disorder caused by pollens, cat saliva, dust, and pet hair; leading to persistent sneezing and running nose. Some common treatments include antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops, nasal sprays, and sublingual immunotherapy.
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis – Condition causes inflammation of the eye, making it appear swollen, itchy, and red because of a bacterial/viral infection or an allergic reaction. Treatments such as cold compress, anti-allergy eye drops, OTC medications, and allergy immunotherapy can provide relief.
  • Allergic Asthma – Severe form of asthma that causes inflammation of the airways, leading to periodic asthma attacks when allergens are ingested. Treatments are usually multi-pronged and treat both allergy and asthma symptoms.

Tips for Controlling Seasonal Allergies

Consider these tips to reduce or minimize seasonal allergies:

  1. Get tested for allergies – Allergy tests (like the skin prick (scratch), intradermal skin, and patch test can help identify what allergens the patient is allergic to so they can avoid as much as possible.
  2. Track pollen reports – Allergy sufferers can follow daily weather and allergy forecasts from reputable weather and news sites/apps for education about when certain allergy counts are high so appropriate precautions can be taken.
  3. Stay indoors – When certain allergy levels are high, sufferers should minimize exposure as much as possible. If going outside, make sure to take a shower and wash your clothes as soon as possible to eliminate as many allergens as possible.
  4. Use nasal sprays and steam – Steam can be helpful in getting rid of congestion and post-nasal drip, although for more serious conditions a nasal steroid spray is recommended to relieve inflammation, reduce swelling in the nasal passages, and/or make breathing easier. Consult with your physician about prescription options.
  5. Eliminate irritants – Important to keep living/working environments free of allergens by regular cleaning to remove molds, fungi, dust, dander, pollen, and other triggers as much as possible. Professional cleaning services are available.

Seasonal Allergy Treatment

Integra Urgent Care has years of experience in identifying and treating various seasonal allergies in our patients. Our goal is a correct diagnosis and effective, affordable treatment plans to get you feeling better quickly. We operate 3 clinics in the DFW area that all treat seasonal allergies: Las Colinas (Irving), Grand Prairie, and Weatherford. We are open 7 days a week (Weekdays – 8 AM to 8 PM; Weekends – 9 AM to 5 PM), and offer walk in visits with online check-in options or Telemedicine video appointments in the comfort of your own home. To schedule an appointment, visit us as or call the nearest clinic:

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