For many people, springtime is a welcomed season as winter fades and the days become longer and warmer. For those with allergies, however, the arrival of spring can be bittersweet. Warming temperatures bring blooming flowers, trees and grasses that can cause allergy symptoms for millions of people every year.
What are allergies? You might be surprised to hear it, but there are many different types of allergies, caused by many different allergens. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, an allergy occurs when your body’s natural defenses overreact to exposure to a substance, treating it as an invader and sending out chemicals to defend against it. Over 50 million Americans suffer from some kind of allergy symptom every year. Depending on the source of the allergen and how it enters the body, allergy symptoms can vary greatly.
What are the common types of allergies?
Allergies can affect many different parts of the body, including:
- The nose and sinuses, known as nasal allergies or allergic rhinitis
- The skin, in the form of itchiness or rash
- The digestive tract, as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or indigestion
- The eyes, in the form of watery, red or itchy eyes
In addition, people can be allergic to many different types of allergens. Common allergens include:
- Pollen from trees, grasses and flowers
- House pets like dogs or cats
- Foods, like dairy, nuts, fruit, wheat or shellfish
- Drugs, like penicillin
- Dust mites
Often, the same allergen can trigger allergic reactions in different places in your body. So, if you are allergic to dust mites, this allergen may trigger:
- nasal allergies, in the form of sneezing or sniffling
- eye allergies, in the form of itchy, watery, red eyes
- skin allergies, in the form of eczema
What are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies are a common type of allergy and are brought on by seasonal weather changes that cause trees, grass and weeds to produce pollen. Seasonal allergens can cause nasal, eye and skin allergies. Nasal allergies alone affect somewhere between 40 million and 60 million Americans.
Most people think of allergies as occurring only in the springtime, but some plants release allergy-causing pollen in the summer and fall as well. Below is a list of the common types of outdoor allergens and when they most often occur:
||Spring and summer|
||Summer and fall|
Many people also suffer from allergies year-round, also known as chronic, or perennial, allergies. In fact, more than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers have year-round symptoms.1
What are chronic allergies?
Chronic allergies are allergies that cause year-round symptoms. Chronic allergies are most commonly caused by indoor allergens. Indoor allergens include dust mites, cockroaches, pet hair or dander and mold. In addition to causing nasal symptoms like sneezing, a cough, a sinus infection, runny or stuffy nose, wheezing and shortness of breath, indoor and outdoor allergens can also cause itchy skin or rash.
It is important for chronic allergy sufferers to do what they can to limit exposure to their allergens. This can help provide relief from symptoms, reduce the risk of developing sinus infections, improve sleep quality and more.
Below are a few tips for managing chronic allergies:
- Keep car and house windows closed, especially during the spring, summer and fall. Open windows can let in unwanted pollens or mold spores.
- Shower before bed to remove any unwanted allergens from your skin and hair and to keep it off your bedding.
- Leave your shoes outside, and change change into clean clothes when you come home from work, school or errands.
- Protect your mattress and bedding from dust mites and other allergens by using protective covers and hypoallergenic bedding. Wash or change your sheets weekly.
- Use an air-purifying system that includes a HEPA filter to clean the air inside your home and remove impurities.
- Vacuum floors and dust surfaces often.
- Limit your use of candles, fragrances or air fresheners, which could contain unknown allergens.
- Eliminate mold from the home.
How can I treat my allergy symptoms?
U.S. board-certified doctors at Teladoc are available to help you address your allergy symptoms. They are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays, so you can get relief over the weekend or when your doctor’s office is closed.
A Teladoc doctor can help recommend over-the-counter medications, write or refill prescriptions, treat your symptoms directly and give advice.
Here are some additional things to discuss with your Teladoc doctor to assist with the treatment of your allergies:
- Different medications treat different symptoms. Ask your Teladoc doctor if a nasal spray, eye drops, allergy pill or a combination would work best.
- Timing matters. Ask your Teladoc doctor what time of day is best to take your different allergy medications.
- While many people choose to take over-the-counter medications, those with allergies report higher rates of satisfaction2 with prescription medications. Ask your Teladoc doctor about your options.
- Often, allergies can cause an eczema breakout. If you have scaly, itchy, dry skin, consult a Teladoc dermatologist to see if allergies may be the cause.
- Sinus rinsing can help remove allergens from the mucus membranes, but be sure to consult with a Teladoc doctor before trying it at home. It’s important to use the right type of water and water temperature. Frequency and timing are important, too.