City of Independence, Missouri

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies
by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
August 27, 2013

Have you found yourself sneezing a lot or have watery eyes, runny nose, or congestion? If you have, you may have seasonal allergies. If you get similar symptoms at the same time every year, you're likely right: seasonal allergies are at work. Seasonal allergies are allergy symptoms that occur during certain times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants.

The immune systems of people who are allergic to mold spores or pollen treat these particles (called allergens) as invaders and release chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against them. It's the release of these chemicals that causes allergy symptoms.

Even children can have seasonal allergies. Kids who have never had seasonal allergies in years past can develop them. Seasonal allergies can start at almost any time, though they usually develop by 10 years of age and reach their peak in the early 20s, with symptoms often disappearing later in adulthood.

If your child develops a "cold" at the same time every year, seasonal allergies might be to blame. Allergy symptoms, which usually come on suddenly and last as long as a person is exposed to a particular allergen, can include:

  • sneezing
  • itchy nose and/or throat
  • nasal congestion
  • clear, runny nose
  • coughing

These symptoms often come with itchy, watery, and/or red eyes, which are called allergic conjunctivitis. If your child has wheezing and shortness of breath in addition to these symptoms, the allergy may have progressed into asthma.

There is no real cure for seasonal allergies, but it is possible to relieve symptoms. Start by reducing or eliminating exposure to allergens. During allergy season, keep windows closed, use air conditioning if possible, and stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Most local news stations will show the pollen counts for the day.

If reducing exposure isn't possible or is ineffective, medicines can help ease allergy symptoms. These may include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal spray steroids. Talk with your child’s pediatrician or your healthcare provider if you have more questions about treatment and controlling your symptoms.

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