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Hay Fever and Other Seasonal Allergies

Topic Overview

Seasonal allergies occur at the same time of the year every year, if you continue to live in the same part of the country. Hay fever is the most common seasonal allergy.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • Runny, stuffy, or itchy nose.
  • Temporary loss of smell.
  • Headache and fatigue.
  • Dark circles under the eyes ("allergic shiners").
  • Drainage from the nose down the back of the throat (postnasal drip).
  • Sore throat or coughing.
  • Snoring.

How can you help prevent seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, are often caused by exposure to pollen. You can reduce your exposure to pollen by:

  • Keeping your house and car windows closed.
  • Limiting the time you spend outside when pollen counts are high (during midday and afternoon).
  • Wearing a pollen mask or dust mask if you need to mow the lawn.
  • Limiting your mowing tasks if you can.
  • Rinsing your eyes with cool water or saline eyedrops to remove clinging pollen after you come indoors.
  • Taking a shower and changing your clothes after you work or play outside.

How can you treat seasonal allergies at home?

The following home treatment measures may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Take an antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Chlor-Trimeton, to reduce symptoms of itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; or a runny, itchy nose. Be sure to read and follow any warnings on the label. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
  • Take a decongestant, such as Sudafed PE, to relieve a stuffy nose. Decongestants may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use them, check the label. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and, in some cases, weight.
  • Clean the inside of your nose with salt water to clear a stuffy nose.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom and take hot showers to help clear a stuffy nose.
  • If your nose is red and raw from rubbing, put petroleum jelly on the sore area.
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to help relieve pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised June 17, 2013

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