Experiencing Seasonal Allergies (#HayFever)? Learn what you can do. 

Do Cause ?

Spring is the time of year for seasonal allergies. As the trees start to bloom and the pollen is released into the atmosphere, allergy sufferers begin their annual ritual of sniffling and sneezing. Each year, 58 million Americans fall prey to seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever.

Although there is no magical cure for spring allergies, there are a number of ways to combat them, from medication to household habits.

What causes spring allergies?

The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen — tiny grains released into the air by trees, grasses, and weeds for the purpose of fertilizing other plants. When pollen grains get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the immune system into overdrive.

The immune system, mistakenly seeing the pollen as foreign invaders, releases antibodies — substances that normally identify and attack bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms. The antibodies attack the allergens, which leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms of allergies.

Pollen can travel for miles, spreading a path of misery for allergy sufferers along the way. The higher the pollen count, the greater the misery. The pollen count measures the amount of allergens in the air in grains per cubic meter. You can find out the daily pollen count in your area by watching your local weather forecast or by visiting the NAB: Pollen & Mold Counts page on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s web site.

Here are some of the biggest spring allergy offenders:


Box elder

Grasses and weeds

Perennial rye
Sweet vernal

Allergy symptoms tend to be particularly high on breezy days when the wind picks up pollen and carries it through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, cause a drop in the pollen counts, because the rain washes away the allergens.

What are the symptoms of spring allergies?

The symptoms of spring allergies include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Dark circles under the eyes

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 your child has never been formally diagnosed with spring allergies but you notice that his/her eyes and nose are itchy and runny during the spring months, make an appointment to see us for an allergy evaluation. We may recommend a skin test, which involves injecting a tiny sample of a diluted allergen just under the skin of your child’s arm or back. If he/she is allergic to the substance, a small red bump (called a wheal or hive) will form. Another diagnostic option is the ImmunoCAP assay that measures allergen-specific IgE, a protein that shows up in blood tests in people with allergies.

Just because someone is sensitive to a particular allergen on a test, though, does not mean that your child will necessarily start sneezing and coughing when he/she comes into contact with it.

What’s the treatment for spring allergies?

We treat spring allergies with a number of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Over-the-counter allergy drugs are effective for many and may include the following depending on your child’s age:

  • Steroid nasal sprays reduce inflammation and are the preferred treatment. Only two, triamcinole ( Nasacort) and fluticasone (Flonase), are currently available over the counter.
  • Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by lowering the amount of histamine (the substance produced during an allergic reaction) in the body. Over the counter antihistamines include desloratadine (Clarinex), loratidine (Alavert, Claritan), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) which do not cause drowsiness. Antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), often make you feel sleepy or tired.
  • Decongestants clear mucus out of the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling. They may also raise blood pressure and cause irritability in children. They work best when used with allergy therapy – nasal steroid spray/ antihistamines.
  • Decongestant nasal sprays relieve congestion and may clear clogged nasal passages faster than oral decongestants. These are for very short term use only because of rebound congestion.
  • Eye drops relieve itchy, watery eyes. Ketotifen is available over-the-counter.
  • Even though you can buy these allergy drugs without a prescription, it’s a good idea to talk to with us first to make sure you choose the right medication.If over-the-counter remedies don’t help allergies, we may recommend a prescription medication or allergy shots. Many steroid nasal sprays are available by prescription also. Allergy shots expose the body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you become tolerant of it. Although they don’t work for everyone, in people who do see a response, allergy shots can stave off symptoms for a few years.

    How to manage spring allergies

     It’s nearly impossible to completely avoid spring allergies if you live in an area where plants grow. However, you can ease sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes by avoiding your child’s main allergy triggers. Here are a few tips.
    • Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is very high (pollen counts usually peak in the mornings).
    • Keep your doors and windows closed whenever possible during the spring months to keep allergens out. An air purifier may also help.
    • Clean the air filters in your home often. Also, clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect.
    • Wash hair after going outside, because pollen can collect there.
    • Vacuum twice a week. Wear a mask, because vacuuming can kick up pollen, mold, and dust that were trapped in your carpet.


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Rochester, PA 15074
Tel: 724-774-7110
Fax: 724-774-7394


701 Broad Street, Suite 422
Sewickley, PA 15143
Tel: 412-741-8700
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Wexford, PA 15090
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119 VIP Drive
Wexford, PA 15090
Tel: 724-935-2610
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300 Brighton Avenue
Rochester, PA 15074
Tel: 724-774-7110
Fax: 724-774-7394


701 Broad Street, Suite 422
Sewickley, PA 15143
Tel: 412-741-8700
Fax: 412-741-3710


119 VIP Drive
Wexford, PA 15090
Tel: 724-935-6644
Fax: 724-935-9644