It’s finally spring! Not just on the calendar, but in the air. As you step outside to look at flowers starting to sprout, you may also want to be on the lookout for the season’s most common illnesses.

The warmer weather, changes in our activity patterns, and the passage of pesky allergens through the air can mean many of us won’t be feeling our best—just when it’s time to shed those coats and have some fun.

So let’s take a look at the illnesses most common during the springtime, and what you can do to keep them at bay.

Spring illness outlook

With the arrival of rising temperatures and that extra hour of daylight, we asked Teladoc Health’s senior medical director for some common ailments that affect our members this time of year.

“The most common illnesses in the spring are seasonal allergies, asthma, Lyme disease, respiratory illness caused by the adenovirus, and allergic pink eye,” Dr. Derek Bennetsen, DO, FAAEM, reports.

Here’s a look at how and where these sicknesses can affect you:

Illness Symptoms Main areas affected
Seasonal allergies Sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes Nose, throat, sinuses, eyes
Asthma Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath Lungs, chest
Lyme disease Fever, rash, headache, body pain, tiredness Muscles, skin, head
Respiratory virus Sore throat, cough, fever, runny nose Nose, mouth, throat, lungs
Pink eye Itching, tearing, stinging, irritation Eyes

Sickness summary

1. Seasonal allergies

If you’re stuffed up or sneezing it out this time of year, you may be one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies.1 Tree and grass pollination, as well as molds from the rainy season, are usually the biggest culprits of congestion and other allergy symptoms that ail you. Windy weather can blow allergens around, and most of us suffer more come springtime since we’re enjoying the great outdoors.

Since it’s pretty tough to avoid breathing air, what can you do? Use air conditioning, leaving allergens outside your home and car as much as possible. After doing yardwork or exercise, wash your clothes and hair to clear away pollens. Some over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can bring relief, but you’ll want to discuss their differences and side effects with a physician. Our doctors are available 24/7 to talk with you about your specific triggers, symptoms, and ways to find relief.

2. Asthma

Those same springtime allergy triggers (pollens and molds) can wreak havoc on the lungs if you suffer from asthma. As you breathe in the allergens your body perceives as a threat, you can experience coughing—especially in the morning or at night, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and shortness of breath. If you also suffer from stuffiness and nasal dripping, you’re in double trouble.

The American Lung Association suggests checking the air quality2 every day so you can plan outdoor activity accordingly. Avoid being around asthma triggers whenever possible, and talk to a physician about how to successfully manage your breathing troubles with prescription medication and other strategies.

3. Lyme disease

In the U.S., there are about 30,000 Lyme disease infections each year.3 As you spend more time outside this spring, watch out for blacklegged ticks, especially in areas with trees like parks or forests. If a tick infected with the Lyme bacteria bites you, you can be infected. The symptoms may be minor, bringing headache, fatigue, and a “bull’s-eye rash,” or could more seriously affect your nervous system and even your heart.

Take precautions especially when in grassy or woodsy areas in these regions:3

  • The Northeast, from Virginia to Maine
  • The North-central states: Wisconsin and Minnesota
  • On the West Coast, in Northern California

That means wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and hat, as well as insect repellant while outdoors. Stay in groomed, open areas, and check your body and clothing for ticks when you’re back indoors. If you find one on your skin, remove it immediately with tweezers. If you start to have symptoms, reach out to a physician.

4. Respiratory illness

While we typically associate viral infections with wintertime, respiratory sicknesses affecting the lungs, throat, and sinuses with excess mucus are common in the springtime, too. “The adenovirus can affect the respiratory system and mimic the flu virus, really any time of year,” explains Dr. Bennetsen, adding that it can also affect the digestive tract and cause a variety of other symptoms.

While contagious viruses can be tough to escape entirely, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Fluids from the respiratory tract carry the virus, which can survive on both skin and surfaces. So wash hands after being in public places and always before eating. Keep your distance from anyone who may be coughing or sneezing as a result of the illness. If someone in your house is sick, thoroughly clean commonly touched areas and avoid sharing food or drink.

5. Allergic pink eye

Is your eye red and itchy? Pink eye, called conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition sometimes caused by allergies, which are often at their worst in the spring. Outdoor pollens and molds can cause problems, but indoor triggers like pet dander and dust mites can also be to blame.

If an allergen gets into your eye, it will become inflamed and irritated. It may also cause burning, swelling or weeping, or the sensation that there’s dirt in your eye. Again, cutting down on exposure to allergens is a great first step to having clear eyes, but there are both OTC and prescription treatments available for relief. Try not to touch your troubled eye, since rubbing can aggravate it.

Need help?

Now that you know what you and your kids are up against this spring, know that our U.S. board-certified physicians are available to treat you 24/7 via phone, app, or secure internet. But why wait for a sickness to strike you down? Prepare now by registering your Teladoc Health account so you can quickly get connected for support when the time comes.

References

1https://acaai.org/news/what-you-dont-know-about-spring-allergies-can-cause-you-misery
2https://www.lung.org/about-us/blog/2016/04/dont-fear-spring-allergies.html
3https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/resources/brochure/lymediseasebrochure.pdf

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