Seasonal allergic rhinitis affects a vast quantity of the population, and sometimes, symptoms can be severe. The problem is, treating allergies, especially pollen allergies (or hay fever) can be difficult without knowing what sort of pollen is causing the symptoms.
Ask first, is it a pollen allergy? Determining that requires understanding the various signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies and allergic rhinitis. Then, knowing which types of pollen are common in different parts of the world can narrow down the cause of your reaction. If you can’t pinpoint the exact type of pollen that makes you miserable, it’s time to consult with a physician for a skin prick or blood allergy test so that treatment can be catered to the particular allergen that causes you problems.
Types of pollen that cause allergic rhinitis
Multiple types of pollen may come into play when it comes to symptoms experienced because there are so many types of pollen out there. However, there are certain types of pollen that seem to be the biggest culprits. Grass leads the way as the most common cause of allergic rhinitis, with lots of species of grass out there. Following closely behind are a wide variety of trees (like oak, cedar, and cottonwood) and weeds.
Other factors weigh in more, though, when it comes to the severity and prevalence of hay fever.
Climate and excess pollen
Depending on the climate and region, the amount of pollen from various species of plants changes. In some areas of the world, which are colder and more like a tundra, there is little or no pollen because there are far fewer plants producing pollen. Even the growing season is extremely short, and less pollen is released into the air.
By contrast, areas of California, Florida, and Texas have very long growing seasons. This means higher levels of pollen production. Other areas lush with flowers and greenery, even during a short season of growth, will have higher levels of pollen than the deserts of Arizona.
So, living where plants proliferate longer or are in higher quantities, more people are likely to suffer from allergic rhinitis, and several of those are susceptible to more severe cases. In fact, such areas could prove highly dangerous to asthmatics, who experience more issues with their asthma, including triggered asthma attacks.
Treating Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis
Once seasonal allergies are confirmed and the pollen type causing them identified, there are several courses of treatment to consider, between over the counter options and prescriptions from a physician. In fact, allergists also have additional options if traditionally simple treatments aren’t working.
- Antihistamines are one of the first lines of defense against allergies. Because allergens entering the system of people with allergies attack the histamine the body releases to push those allergens out, a medication that prevents or stops the production of histamine douses the effects of symptoms.
- Nasal corticosteroids are perhaps the most effective solution to fight allergy symptoms caused by hay fever. The steroids help reduce inflammation caused by the allergic reaction, which then reduces itching, burning, wheezing, and other difficulty breathing.
- Oral corticosteroids might be prescribed in the instance that someone cannot tolerate a nasal spray. Most often, this is the case with asthmatics, who have stronger reactions to allergens such as pollen. However, there are side effects of the oral composition
- Allergy shots are a form of immunotherapy that can be used when other measures don’t do the trick. In the shots are microscopic amounts of the allergen in question, and that solution is injected into the patient, typically once a week. Over the course of time, the body builds an immunity to that particular pollen so that there is no longer an allergic reaction when exposed to it. Because this type of treatment contains actual pollen spores in miniscule amounts, it’s vital to discover the exact strain of pollen that is causing the hay fever.
- Sublingual tablets, which dissolve under the tongue, may be helpful instead of allergy shots, performing the same function orally. However, this administration would be more useful for someone with a lesser reaction to pollen. Again, it’s essential to know what type of pollen causes allergic rhinitis.
Signs and symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis
Pollen is one of the most common causes of allergy symptoms, otherwise known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies. Pollen is most potent in the spring – growing season – as plants produce it to procreate and thrive. However, this leads to issues for those with an allergic reaction, as the body reacts inappropriately to breathing in the pollen spores.
It’s fairly easy to identify the symptoms of allergies, especially those related to pollen. Here are some of the things to look for:
- Nasal congestion, as well as runny and/or itchy nose, leading to sneezing
- Sinus pressure that can lead to facial pain and headaches
- Scratchy or itchy throat and coughing
- Itchy, watery eyes and/or swelling and bluish skin under and around the eyes
- Decreased sense of smell or taste
- Worsening of asthma symptoms, especially in the spring, such as wheezing
Most people with a pollen allergy experience a combination of these symptoms, especially in the spring, when the growing season is at its height. Consider seasonal treatment, year round therapy, or even change of environment during the worst time of year for pollen exposure.
For many, hay fever is an inconvenience that only strikes during the height of growing season. For others, seasonal allergic rhinitis is debilitating and can significantly impact quality of life based on how severe the symptoms are. Itchy, watery eyes can lead to impaired vision, and congestion and runny nose make breathing difficult. Those with a combination of asthma and hay fever suffer most.
Seeking out treatment, whether with over the counter antihistamines or prescription medications, can significantly improve not just seasonal symptoms but issues throughout the year based on pollen exposure, and they can assist in returning those with pollen allergies to better health, with normal functionality.
Identifying symptoms early can help achieve the goal of finding the right treatment in time, allowing for more options from both doctors and home remedies. Don’t ignore those symptoms or risk worsening ones by putting off potential treatments.