What makes spring so beautiful for many people leads to misery for those who suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms. Natural allergy treatments can be as effective and, in many cases, more effective than allergy medications.
Fresh cut grass, blooming trees and flowers, and weeds release pollen, causing seasonal allergies in an estimated 40 million to 60 million people each year. (1) Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever and seasonal allergies that occur not just in the spring, but throughout the summer and into the fall.
While hay fever frequently begins at a young age, it can strike anyone, at any time. Sometimes seasonal allergy symptoms fade over the years, only to reoccur later in life. If you experience seasonal allergy symptoms in one location and move to a new area with different types of flora, your allergies may go away.
Every tree, flower and weed releases pollen, but not all individuals have heightened sensitivity or allergic reactions to all pollens. It’s important to pay attention and recognize what triggers your allergy symptoms. For some people, cottonwood trees and ragweed are the problems, while for others it’s grass or ragweed.
Research indicates nearly 75 percent of people in the United States who suffer from seasonal allergies are allergic to ragweed. Unlike grass, trees and flower that produce pollen in the spring and summer, pollen due to ragweed is often highest during the fall. (2)
Nearly a third of ragweed allergy sufferers also experience an allergic response to certain foods. These include cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, bananas and chamomile tea. (3) If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid these foods and others listed below under “Foods to Avoid.”
Left untreated, seasonal allergy symptoms cause miserable symptoms, affect day-to-day activities and can spur asthma attacks. Approximately 80 percent of people with asthma suffer from seasonal allergies. Treating hay fever symptoms can reduce asthma–related hospitalizations and emergencies. (4)
The same pollen and allergens that trigger seasonal allergy symptoms can cause asthma attacks, resulting in wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. This condition is referred to as allergy-induced asthma or allergic asthma. (5)
People with compromised immune systems, COPD and other respiratory conditions need to manage their seasonal allergy symptoms to prevent further complications. Changes in diet, natural supplements, essential oils and lifestyle changes can help.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms make you feel simply awful. Congestion, post-nasal drip, itchy eyes and sneezing wear your body down. While the severity of symptoms of allergic rhinitis vary widely from season to season, chances are if you have seasonal allergies, the symptoms impact your day-to-day life.
Researchers are at odds as to why seasonal allergy symptoms have worsened over the past 30 years but agree that allergies to pollen, moldand some foods are growing exponentially. According to the “Quest Diagnostics Health Trends Allergy Report,” overall rates of allergy sensitivities have increased nearly 6 percent in just four years, and ragweed allergies have grown 15 percent. (6)
Many hay fever symptoms are similar to those of a common cold or sinus infection, but colds and sinus infections come and go much more quickly than seasonal allergies. Allergy symptoms don’t go away until the pollen is dormant.
Someone suffering from seasonal allergies faces the same challenges, season after season. When the allergen is pollen, mold or another airborne substance, the symptoms typically manifest in the lungs, nose and eyes. Food allergies, on the other hand, most commonly affect the mouth, stomach and may cause skin rashes.
Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Post-nasal drip
- Excess mucus production
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Tickle/irritation in the ears
- Decreased concentration and focus
- Decreased decision-making
- Exhaustion and sleep disorders
- Mood swings
- Low blood pressure
- Middle ear infections
Limiting the time you spend outdoors can help relieve these symptoms of hay fever. But this isn’t the best solution. Who wants to spend their spring, summer and fall stuck indoors?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allergies can’t generally be prevented, but allergic reactions can be. (7) The treatment goal is to avoid contact with the allergen — however, this is extremely difficult for individuals with seasonal allergies.
Treating your seasonal allergy symptoms requires a multi-pronged attack, one that addresses your diet, lifestyle and natural treatments.