Spring allergies typically begin in March. Allergens cause the body's immune system to go into overdrive, leading to allergy symptoms that include:
- Itchy/stuffy nose.
- Itchy, watery and red eyes.
- Sneezing or rash.
- Ear itch or fullness.
Spring allergies are different from fall allergies in that they are typically caused by grass and tree pollen. (Fall allergies are primarily triggered by weed pollen.) Weather plays a big role in different pollen levels. If it’s sunny and windy, pollen counts are usually high. Rainy and damp days bring those levels down.
There are several different types of treatment for seasonal allergies. The standard treatment is an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec or Xyzal. You may also want to take a more targeted approach and treat the area that is causing your symptoms. For example, if your nose is stuffy, you might want to try a nasal spray.
If over-the-counter medicine doesn’t work after a few days and you still have symptoms, you should make an appointment with an allergist. Your doctor may recommend you get allergy shots. All environmental allergens can be tested by performing a skin test, which your doctor may also do at their office.
There are some nonpharmacologic options that everyone can do to minimize spring allergies. When you’re driving, make sure your windows are up. When you get home after being outside, change clothes and take a shower to minimize additional exposure to pollen and other springtime allergens.
Cone Health has a network of primary care, allergy/immunology specialists and related health care providers dedicated to treating allergies and improving the quality of life of those who suffer from the condition.
Shaylar Padgett, MD, is an allergist and immunologist at the Allergy and Asthma Center of North Carolina and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. She completed medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine, her residency in pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a fellowship in allergy and immunology at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. She is a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) societies.