Seasonal allergies are sometimes dismissed as a common nuisance; however, they can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
If you experience seasonal allergies, it’s important not to underestimate their severity and the importance of managing the condition in order to obtain relief and improve quality of life.
Seasonal allergies typically present in the form of allergic rhinitis (AR), also known as hay fever, which is characterized by nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, and nasal pruritus (itchy nose).
Allergies, asthma, and atopic dermatitis (eczema) all fall under the umbrella of atopic conditions, which involve having a genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases.
Allergic rhinitis is an irregular immune response that occurs in two phases, involving a number of immune mediators and cells.
The early phase, triggered by inhaled allergens, occurs within five to 15 minutes of exposure.
The early phase immune response is mediated by immunoglobulins (antibodies) and involves mast cells releasing compounds, including histamine, that cause symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose.
Allergies can be triggered by the inhalation of various allergens, such as animal dander, house dust mites, mold, and pollen from plants (e.g., trees, weeds, grass).
The most common seasonal allergy symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Diagnosing allergic rhinitis involves allergy testing, commonly available in the form of a skin allergy test or allergy blood test for allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE).
For individuals with seasonal allergies, it is best to perform allergy testing during the peak of allergy season, which can help identify specific triggers.
Seasonal allergies are commonly treated with medications such as antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and allergen immunotherapy, which can help to build tolerance to allergens.
Immunotherapy can be provided as subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (oral allergy tablets).
In some cases, allergy shots may exacerbate allergies and asthma or trigger an anaphylactic reaction, so appropriate medical administration and supervision is advised.