Spring Allergies

This post was written by Dr. Aditi Joshi, an ER physician and Medical Director of JeffConnect®. JeffConnect® On-Demand Video Visits ‘connect’ Jefferson emergency doctors to patients anytime  via phone, tablet or computer-to treat a variety of minor illnesses, answer medical questions, and prescribe medications when appropriate.

As we experience the warmer weather, all thoughts turn to spring and the excitement of the new season. However, for those who suffer from spring allergies it can be a time of dread. Today we’ll discuss what causes spring allergies, the symptoms, and potential treatments.

What causes spring allergies?
Most spring allergies are caused by pollen, mostly tree pollens, but grass and weed pollen can also contribute. When the body’s immune system interacts with these pollens, they respond to it as a danger and release a chemical called histamine, which ultimately causes allergy symptoms.

What are the symptoms?
You may have runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watery and itchy eyes and ears and fatigue. You may notice the symptoms last a while.

How do I know it’s not a cold?
A cold can also present with fever, sore throat and aches. Cold symptoms tend to go away within 1-2 weeks, while allergies can continue to cause symptoms if you are continually exposed to allergens.

How do I get diagnosed?
Many times the diagnosis is evident based on the symptoms, timeline and the history of being exposed to allergens at certain times of the year or in certain environments. An allergist can also make a diagnosis by doing a skin or blood test.

Treatments

Avoid pollen:

  • Avoid being outside on days with high pollen count.
  • Keep windows closed while in the house and car.
  • Wash clothes and shoes when coming in from a day outside.

Medications:

  • Antihistamines block the histamine response and can decrease the sneezing and itching.
  • Decongestants relieve congestion and swelling in the nose.
  • Steroid nasal sprays can be used to decrease nasal inflammation.
  • Cromolyn nasal spray prevents histamine release, preventing a runny nose.
  • Eye drops can help with itchy watery eyes.

Allergy season can be a rough time for allergy sufferers, but there are treatments available to help you through it. Remember, if you have a question about whether you are suffering from allergies versus a cold, or about how to treat your symptoms, a JeffConnect® video visit can help.

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