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Allergies Health Center

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Spring Allergies

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What are the symptoms of spring allergies?

The symptoms of spring allergies include:

Airborne allergens also can trigger asthma, a condition in which the airways narrow, making breathing difficult and leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

How are spring allergies diagnosed?

If you’ve never been formally diagnosed with spring allergies but you notice that your eyes and nose are itchy and runny during the spring months, see your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to an allergist for tests.

The allergy specialist may do a skin test, which involves either a pricking the surface of the skin with a tiny amount of allergen (prick test), or injecting a tiny sample of a diluted allergen just under the skin of your arm or back. If you’re allergic to the substance, a small red bump (called a wheal or hive) will form. Sometimes a diagnostic option that might be used is the ImmunoCAP assay that measures allergen-specific IgE, a protein that shows up in blood tests in people with allergies.

Just because you are sensitive to a particular allergen on a test, though, doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily start sneezing and coughing when you come into contact with it.

What's the treatment for spring allergies?

Doctors treat spring allergies with a number of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Over-the-counter allergy drugs are effective for many people and include the following:

  • Antihistaminesreduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by lowering the amount of histamine (the substance produced during an allergic reaction) in the body. 
  • Decongestantsshrink the blood vessels in the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling. 
  • Antihistamine/decongestants combine the effects of both drugs.
  • Nasal spray decongestants relieve congestion and may clear clogged nasal passages faster than oral decongestants without some of the side effects. 
  • Steroid nasal sprays reduce inflammation and are the preferred initial treatment. Only two, Nasacort and Flonase, are currently available over the counter. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can help prevent hay fever by stopping the release of histamine before it can trigger allergy symptoms.
  • Eye drops relieve itchy, watery eyes. Ketotifen is available over-the-counter.
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