As the seasons change, plants begin to grow and pollinate the air; trees bloom during the spring, grass in the summer, and weeds in the fall. But the shift in scenery is not as enjoyable for people with allergies that flare up when seasons change.
Allergic rhinitis, most commonly referred to as seasonal allergies, is the immune system’s reaction to plant pollen, dust mites, or mold. Unlike year-long perennial allergens, seasonal inhalant allergens emerge in large quantities during specific periods of the year.
While most immune system reactions are similar for both types of allergens, seasonal allergy symptoms are intensified outdoors. Pollen levels and weather conditions trigger allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing, a runny or stuffy nose, and itching in the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat.
Most seasonal allergic reactions coincide with allergic asthma symptoms, because they have similar triggers. However, it is important to distinguish between them to understand how to treat them.
The difference between seasonal allergies and allergic asthma is the location of the reaction. Allergy symptoms occur in the upper respiratory system, while asthma symptoms are located in the lungs and upper bronchial passages. During asthma exacerbation, lungs and airway muscles become swollen or inflamed, preventing the flow of air.
People with allergy-induced asthma are more prone to react severely to pollen triggers. There’s even an increased risk for the nine percent of older adults with asthma. According to Kaiser Health News, the immune system’s response to inflammation declines with age.
The decline in immunity makes it harder to prevent infections that trigger asthma attacks. Decrease in muscle capability weakens the respiratory system, lowering lung function and increasing allergic asthma symptom severity.
As a new season approaches, allergic reactions can worsen. To alleviate allergies and prevent severe respiratory damage, follow these tips to manage seasonal changes:
- Keep your windows closed, and run an air purifier or air conditioner
- Shower and wash your hair to remove pollen after being outside for an extended time
- Use nasal saline to irrigate the nose, wash away allergens, and reduce nasal mucous
- Avoid allergy triggers and check the pollen count of allergens your body is sensitive to. You can find helpful information through allergy maps, pollen count apps, and custom email alerts
- Take allergy medicine or get allergy shots to regulate your body’s response to allergens
- See an allergist to set up a treatment plan to prevent and control your allergies. Tap into the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s a virtual allergist