In this guide to seasonal allergies, we're explaining why seasonal allergies occur and comparing the best traditional and natural allergy treatments so you can find the best ones for you!
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Congestion, watery eyes, drainage, sneezing, coughing – many of us know these symptoms all too well. If we are familiar with them, we likely experience them at least a couple of times a year. Seasonal allergies can take down the best of us. Let’s dive into what seasonal allergies are and look at different treatment options – including more traditional treatments and natural options.
What are seasonal allergies?
To make it very simple, seasonal allergies cause an immune response to things in the air that our body is interpreting as harmful. However, in reality, they are not actually harmful. Seasonal allergies are also referred to as hay fever.
When is Allergy Season?
Depending on what you’re allergic to, you can experience allergies year-round or during specific times of the year. The term “seasonal” allergies relate more to allergies to plants, trees, grasses, etc. that have seasons of when they are blooming and releasing more pollen. Typically, there are two peak times for seasonal allergies: spring and fall. Spring allergy season runs from late February to early summer and fall allergy season spans from August-November (1).
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
There are many different things that can cause seasonal allergies but the most common risk factors are a family history of allergies and/or having asthma. Some of the culprits that trigger these allergies are pollen from trees, grass, and ragweed. Mold can also be a common allergy trigger depending on the amount of rain that occurs during these allergy seasons.
Here's how seasonal allergies work:
* You are exposed to an allergen, for example, pollen. It comes into contact with and passes through your mucous membrane, often in your nose.
* Your body doesn’t react to the first contact with the allergen, but the plasma cell starts to create an IgE antibody to help protect you from this “threat” (even though we know the pollen is not a true threat). This IgE antibody is like a watchdog that is created specifically to recognize and “fight” against that pollen (also known as an antigen).
* The next time that you are outside and come into contact with that same allergen, you start to experience a runny nose and/or itchy eyes – which is thanks to the antibodies that have been building up. These antibodies surround themselves around a big cell called a Mast cell – another part of the immune system. The antibodies hang out on this Mast cell waiting for the “threat” to make an appearance and attack whenever it does. When the pollen gets into your system again, the antibodies attack and send signals to the Mast cell to release histamines to help fight against it.
* Histamines are released to expel the threat – this triggers mucus production which tickles your throat or nose to make you cough or sneeze to get rid of the invader. Ultimately, your body is trying to evacuate what it has interpreted as “dangerous offenders”.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms can differ from person to person but often show up as:
* Congestion with a runny or stuffy nose
* Itchy or watery eyes
* Scratchy throat or cough
* Headaches or pressure in the sinuses are also common symptoms
Traditional Allergy Treatments