Throughout the world, about 30 percent of people experience seasonal allergies. Those with seasonal allergies can experience symptoms in the spring, summer and fall, depending on the allergens that affect them. For some people, the symptoms are a mild annoyance while for others they could become life-threatening, especially if they trigger an asthma attack. Learning more about seasonal allergies can help you to determine if you have them so that you can consult with your doctor for the proper treatment.
Changes in Climate Are Increasing Pollen
As the temperatures get warmer and stay warmer for a longer period of time, the pollen levels may increase. Between 1994 and 2000 and again between 2001 and 2010, there has been a 46 percent increase in daily pollen levels when looking at the annual average. This is as a result of the changing climate in the US.
The ragweed season has also increased since 1995. Scientists explored 11 locations where ragweed is prevalent and found that of these 11 locations, 10 had a longer and more intense ragweed season for allergy sufferers.
How Allergens Induce Symptoms
Knowing how allergens cause symptoms can help you to better understand how your seasonal allergies are affecting your body. For some people, the immune system identifies substances in the air as dangerous when they are harmless. For example, if you have spring allergies, this is your immune system believing that tree pollen poses a danger to your health.
In response, your body releases various chemicals, including histamines, into your blood stream. The goal is for these chemicals to attack the foreign invader, such as pollen, so that it does not cause you any harm. Your seasonal allergy symptoms are a direct result of the chemicals that your body is producing to fend off the allergen.
Allergies by Season
All four seasons bring with them different allergens that can cause allergy sufferers to experience symptoms. Knowing what to look out for during the different seasons can make it easier to narrow down which allergens are bothersome for you.
The pollen that comes from trees is the most common spring allergen that causes people to experience symptoms. Depending on where you live, trees begin pollinating between the months of January and April, so you can start to experience symptoms anytime in this period. There are several trees that can cause allergy symptoms, including:
During the summer and even late in the spring season, grass pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies. However, if you are very sensitive to grass pollen, it is possible to experience allergy symptoms most times of the year if you lay in the grass or mow your lawn.
The grasses that cause allergy symptoms vary depending on what part of the country you live in. Those in the southern states need to be aware of Bermuda grass. If you are up north, the following grasses commonly cause allergies:
- Red top
- Sweet vernal
During the early fall and late summer months, ragweed and other weed pollens commonly cause seasonal allergy symptoms. The exact weeds you need to be aware of depend on which region of the country you live in. Common weeds to look out for include:
Most of the outdoor airborne allergies are dormant during the winter months due to the cold weather. However, if you have seasonal allergies, you are at a higher risk for a reaction to indoor allergens. Since people spend more time indoors during the winter, be aware of the following which could cause allergy symptoms:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
There are several characteristic symptoms associated with allergies. No matter which seasonal allergies you are dealing with, the following symptoms are common:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Ear congestion
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Itchiness in your throat, sinuses or ear canals
- Postnasal drainage
- Ear, nose or chest congestion
- Eyelid puffiness
For some people, seasonal allergies hit a bit harder and cause more serious symptoms. These can occur whether you are an asthmatic or not. While less common, the following symptoms are also possible:
- Shortness of breath
During allergy season, some people also find it more difficult to exercise. You might notice that your endurance has decreased and that you are breathing harder than you normally do. This can be due to several different seasonal allergy issues, such as being congested and having difficulty breathing through your nose. If you are someone who gets shortness of breath due to your allergies, this too can interfere with your ability to exercise.
It is also possible to experience some skin-related symptoms as a result of allergies. Hives and itching are the two most common. Those with an allergy to grass pollen are at risk for skin-related symptoms and these are typically experienced in the summer months.
Seasonal allergies vary in intensity from person to person. If you are experiencing them to any degree, it is important to see your allergy doctor in Hudson Valley to determine which allergens bother you and the proper course of treatment.
When Seasonal Allergies Induce Asthma
In the US, an estimated 60 percent of people with asthma also have allergies. When you have both conditions, the allergens that you are allergic too induce an immune response and can trigger an asthma attack. The common symptoms that allergies can cause asthmatics to experience include:
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
When you are experiencing an asthma attack, it is considered a medical emergency. Immediate medical attention is necessary for the following symptoms:
- Rapid breathing with chest retractions
- Rapid movement of your nostrils
- Your chest expands, but upon exhaling, it does not deflate
- Your face, fingernails or lips are turning blue
- Your stomach or ribs are moving too rapidly and deeply when you are breathing
There are viable treatments available for seasonal allergies. If you are experiencing symptoms, your doctor can evaluate them and help you to decide on the best course of treatment. It is especially important to ensure proper treatment if you have asthma since seasonal allergies can induce an asthma attack.