Achoo! Time to Talk About Seasonal Allergies

Spring and summer are prime seasons for allergies. Even if people don’t consider themselves as “allergic,” they still might get a sniffly nose due to allergen exposure.

Joanna Lambert, family nurse practitioner at Riverside Medical Group’s Primary Care East Court Clinic, shares helpful information about seasonal allergies—including ways to navigate through the symptoms.

What Causes Allergy Symptoms?

Allergens include pollen from trees, weeds, grasses, and molds. In the early spring in Illinois, pollen comes from trees such as ash, elm, maple, oak, and walnut. In the late spring and early summer, pollen arises from grass. The most common culprit in the fall is ragweed, which lingers from about August to November in the Midwest and the East.

The most common symptoms are congestion, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. Individuals may also develop postnasal drip, which can cause a sore throat. “In younger kids with postnasal drip, they’ll often have an upset stomach with it,” notes Lambert.

Symptom Relief Options

There are various ways to manage allergy symptoms. The most common approach is over-the-counter antihistamines (Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin). A steroid nasal spray like Nasonex is another option, particularly if congestion is a dominating symptom.

“I always tell my patients, those two together are going to give you the best symptom relief, and you really need to take them consistently on a daily basis, not an ‘as needed’ basis, to get that complete symptom relief,” urges Lambert. “Allergy specialists will tell you, if you know you have spring allergies, start taking those two things two weeks before you even get into the season.”

Another potential option for symptom relief is a saline nasal rinse like a neti pot. This is especially helpful if you have a stuffed up nose and feel like you can’t breathe through your nasal passages.

Joanna Lambert, FNP-BC

When Is It Time to See Your Primary Care Provider?

In many cases, the above methods are enough to get people through the allergy season. Yet, there might be a time when seeing a primary care provider is the appropriate action. Lambert says if you feel like you’re always getting “sick,” it’s time to set up an appointment.

“We can really figure out if you are actually getting sick, or is this something you’re just environmentally exposed to certain other allergens? There are other environmental allergens we are exposed to year round, and they could be causing these symptoms. We can run a respiratory panel, an environmental panel, and really figure out what is causing these symptoms.”

To find the right primary care provider for you and your family click here.