Spring Allergies

Springtime in Riverside means green hills, warm afternoons, and the occasional need for an umbrella. It also marks the beginning of symptoms for those of us with seasonal allergies.

Why are allergies worse in the spring?

This time of year, the majority of plants choose to send up their pollen to the breeze but irritants are present year-round depending on the climate or even the type of winter we’ve had. A mild winter can cause some plants to pollinate earlier, while a more rainy spring can lead to more irritating plant or mold growth.

What are the most common seasonal allergy symptoms?

Released pollen particles end up carried into our noses and cause an immune response, even if you’re not the one blowing the dandelion. That immune response is what causes our most common allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, stuffy nose, and itchy nose, eyes, or ears. These upper respiratory symptoms of allergies are different than the severe anaphylactic reaction type of allergy. Anaphylaxis is a serious, life threatening allergic reaction characterized by a red itchy rash, swelling around the mouth or eyes, wheezing, coughing, or trouble breathing. Common triggers of anaphylactic reactions are certain types of foods, medications, insect stings, and latex.

What can I do to prevent allergy symptoms?

Avoiding allergy triggers is one of the best ways to prevent symptoms. However, you do not need to trap yourself in a bubble or miss out on the view of the snow topped green mountains to avoid pollen-triggered seasonal allergies! Instead, try to avoid specific types of plants that you know trigger symptoms. For example, don’t sit at that lunch table under the eucalyptus trees if you know you sneeze every time you are near. If you aren’t sure of what exactly is your triggering pollen culprit, here are a few tips to limit your overall exposure during allergy season:

  • Check the weather report for pollen or smoke. If the pollen count is high, consider limiting your outdoor activities. Avoid smoke such as fireplaces or smoke from a wildfire.
  • Close windows and doors in your home and in your car.
  • When you’re done enjoying the outdoors, take a shower and wash your clothes as soon as you come in to avoid tracking the pollen into your home.
  • If you have severe allergies and need to work or spend time outdoors, a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask may help limit pollen exposure.

Now that I’ve got allergies, what can I do?

Despite all these precautions, many of us continue to sneeze. If you’ve got allergy symptoms, there are a few over the counter options that may help you feel better:

  • A saline nasal spray can help wash away pollens and decrease swelling in your nose.
  • Mild allergy symptoms can be treated with second-generation antihistamine medications such as loratadine, desloratadine, levocetirizine, and fexofenadine.
  • If symptoms are affecting your daily life, a pharmacist or physician may recommend an over the counter intranasal corticosteroid such as fluticasone furoate or triamcinolone acetonide.

When do I need to see a doctor for allergies?

If your allergy symptoms are persisting and getting in the way of your life, it’s time to see your doctor. She may recommend some of the over the counter options above or additional prescription allergy treatments. In some cases, an allergy evaluation may be helpful to discover your triggers. Also, be sure to check in with your doctor if your symptoms are different than your usual allergies; it could be something different this time.

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