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With the warmer seasons often comes the onset of allergy symptoms. One common reaction is called allergic rhinitis and it’s caused by inhaling something you are allergic to, like dust, animal dander or pollen.
Initial symptoms of allergic rhinitis include: itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, etc.; inability to smell; runny nose; sneezing; and watery eyes. Symptoms that might appear later include: stuffy nose, coughing, clogged ears, sore throat, dark circles under the eyes, puffiness under the eyes, fatigue, irritability and headache.
Hay fever is a form of allergic rhinitis that is caused by outdoor particles, including plant pollen. Whether or not you develop hay fever symptoms depends on the amount of pollen in the air. On hot, dry, windy days, a significant amount of pollen is usually in the air. However, on cool, damp, dry days, less is present because it’s washed to the ground.
To avoid allergy symptoms:
- Decrease your exposure to: dust and dust mites in your home; indoor and outdoor molds; plant pollens and animals
- Install furnace and air filters
- Purchase a dehumidifier to dry the air in your house
- Opt for hardwood or laminate flooring, rather than carpet
Antihistamines are often used when symptoms are brief and don’t occur often. Allergic rhinitis sufferers often respond well to antihistamine nasal sprays, so you may want to try one before using the pill form. Decongestants—which come in pill, liquid, capsule and nasal spray form—can be used to treat runny or stuffy noses with no prescription needed. If used after being outdoors, a nasal rinse can help remove nose mucus associated with mild allergic rhinitis.
Make an appointment with your health care provider or an allergist if: you have severe allergy or hay fever symptoms; your symptoms do not improve with over-the-counter treatments; or you experience increased wheezing or coughing. For more information, visit our seasonal allergy page.