Spring Allergies

After staying indoors for much of winter, spring is a welcome relief for most people. While the longer days, green grass and blossoming plants herald in the new season, they also bring the return of pollen. Spring allergies often occur because of pollen. If spending time outside in the spring makes your eyes start to water and your nose run, you may be one of the 40 million Americans suffering from springtime allergies.

Onset of Springtime Allergies

Although the first day of spring occurs in March, springtime allergies may begin affecting you as early as February, especially in states with warmer climates. Traditionally, springtime allergies can cause symptoms from March to May. While the amount of pollen spikes in the spring, the amount of pollen in the air can vary from day to day. A pollen count tracks the percentage of pollen in the air and can help people with springtime allergies plan their outdoor activities better.

Common Allergens

The allergen that gets the most credit during springtime is tree pollen, but other allergens can trigger symptoms as well. In warmer climates, mold may be the main culprit causing allergies. Mildew, pet dander and dust mites are also allergens that may contribute to springtime allergies.

Testing for Allergies

Allergy symptoms tend to mirror those of a cold; however, allergy symptoms last longer. People with springtime allergies tend to see the symptoms develop at the same time each year. The best way to determine whether you have a springtime allergy is to visit a doctor for testing. During the test, a doctor or nurse will introduce an allergen to your skin by pricking it. A positive test occurs when the area shows a reaction. Common reactions include the skin turning red, becoming itchy or looking like a bug bite. A doctor may recommend additional testing if the results of the test are inconclusive.

Expert Insight

Spring allergies do not have a cure, but people do have treatment options to help alleviate springtime allergy symptoms. Treatment options are the same for both adults and children, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a correspondent with CBS and an expert on women’s health. Using an over-the-counter antihistamine may help, but some individuals may need a prescription-strength medication to prevent and alleviate symptoms.

Treatment and Prevention

If you suffer from springtime allergies, work with your doctor to determine the best treatment options before the weather starts to warm up. Some allergy medications work to block symptoms before they can begin. Watching the pollen count and staying inside on days when the count is higher than normal may also help you avoid symptoms. In addition to taking medication, you can use a saline nasal rinse to clear allergens from your nasal path. For extreme cases, doctors may be able to help calm the body’s reaction to an allergen through a process that exposes the individual to the allergen over a set amount of time.