Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever are nasal allergy symptoms that occur as a result of allergic reactions to allergens that are typically only present for certain times of the year, for example spring, summer or fall. Allergens responsible for causing seasonal allergy are spores that are released from molds, and pollen grains released from trees or grasses.
Immune system of allergic individuals detects allergens as invader foreign particles and releases histamine and other chemical mediators in the body to fight against them. These chemical mediators are the reason for causing allergy symptoms.
The real culprits of springtime seasonal allergies are trees that start pollinating in this time. Common trees that may cause spring allergy include walnut, maple, poplar, ash, elm, oak, olive, birch, hickory, sycamore and cypress.
Summertime allergies are a result of grass pollen amount of which is highest at these times. Grasses such as red top, orchard, timothy, Bermuda, rye, sweet vernal, blue grasses and certain weeds are responsible for causing allergy in this season.
Weed pollens (e.g. tumbleweed, sagebrush, ragweed and pigweed) and trees that pollinate in fall (e.g. fat hens, plantains, nettles, sorrels) are responsible for fall allergy.
SYMPTOMS OF SEASONAL ALLERGIES
Symptoms of seasonal allergies are similar to that of cold. Common symptoms are:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Scratchy throat
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Watery and swollen eyes
- Ear congestion
SEASONAL ALLERGIES DIAGNOSIS
Seasonal allergies are easier to diagnose compared to other allergy, due to the fact that it occurs at specific times of the year. Allergic individuals are asked to undergo either skin or blood test for diagnosis purposes.
Skin test is usually done in any of the two ways:
- Prick-puncture method: A small amount of the allergen is dropped on the skin and the area is gently scratched with a small sterile pricking device.
- Intradermal method: This method involves injection of a small amount of allergen just under the skin
The test is positive if typical symptoms in response to the allergen.
Blood test is available for people who have skin diseases, problem with medication or are at risk of anaphylaxis. The test involves various procedures to identify presence of IgE antibodies in the blood.
TREATMENT FOR SEASONAL ALLERGIES
If your seasonal allergy symptoms are making you wretched, ask a doctor to help you out. A number of treatment options are available, most of which are mainly targeted to alleviate symptoms. The above-mentioned medications are available to ease allergy symptoms.
- Antihistamines: Available as first and second generation antihistamines and can help relieve watery eyes, itching, sneezing and runny nose.
- Decongestants: They help thinning nasal secretions and cause shrinkage of the swollen nasal membranes.
- Cromolyn sodium: A nasal spray that blocks release of histamine and stop hay fever.
- Immunotherapy: Also called allergy shots. They alter immune response of the allergic individual’s body to allergens.
- Combination medications: Antihistamines and decongestants are combined to get better result.