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Spring Allergy Prevention Strategies

May 28, 2024

Allergies can be a miserable experience for those who suffer from them, causing symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.

While it may seem impossible to avoid the pollen and other allergens that trigger these reactions, several steps can be taken to prevent or minimize spring allergy symptoms.

From medical treatments to lifestyle changes, allergy sufferers have a range of options to help them enjoy the beauty of spring without the misery of allergies.

Keep reading to learn more about how to prevent spring allergies and find symptom relief.

Can Spring Allergies be Avoided?

While it may not be possible to completely avoid spring allergies, some steps can be taken to prevent or minimize symptoms.

The first step in preventing spring allergies is understanding the difference between allergy symptoms and conditions.

The second step is to identify your specific allergies. Common spring allergens typically include tree and plant pollen, dust, mites, and mold. By identifying the specific allergens that trigger symptoms, individuals can take targeted steps to reduce their exposure and prevent allergic reactions.

Those who suffer from severe or persistent spring allergies should make an appointment with an allergist to discuss their options for allergy shots and other preventative measures.

Understanding the difference in allergy conditions and symptoms

People usually suspect that they might be experiencing allergies due to the signs and symptoms they experience. Different types of allergies can cause varied symptoms in individuals. Pollen allergies, for example, typically cause sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes, while dust mite allergies may lead to nasal congestion, coughing, and wheezing. 

The severity of allergy symptoms can also differ from person to person. Some may experience mild discomfort during spring allergies, while others may have more severe reactions that significantly impact their daily lives. Examples of spring allergy symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:

  • Sneezing,
  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Itching of the nose, eyes, or roof of the mouth
  • Watery, red, or swollen eyes

The difference between an allergic condition and a symptom is that the condition rarely goes away, but the symptom is the part you can treat. Genetic and other biological factors can often result in a lifelong allergy condition. However, the severity of the symptoms is the most controllable factor that you can look to improve with the help of an allergist. The most common seasonal allergies and allergy-related conditions are:

Consulting with an allergist can help individuals identify their specific allergens and develop a personalized treatment plan to manage their symptoms effectively.

Medical Preventative Treatments for Spring Allergies

Several medical preventative treatments are available for those who suffer from severe or persistent spring allergies.

These treatments can help reduce the frequency and severity of allergy symptoms, allowing individuals to enjoy the spring season more comfortably and easily.

Some of the most effective medical preventative treatments for allergies include over-the-counter antihistamines, prescription oral or nasal antihistamines, nasal corticosteroid sprays, and allergy shots (immunotherapy).

Over-the-counter antihistamines

Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines are a common first-line treatment for mild to moderate allergies and can be purchased at most drug stores. These medications work by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical released by the body during an allergic reaction that causes symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

Some popular OTC antihistamines include:

  • Loratadine (Ex: Claritin)
  • Cetirizine (Ex: Zyrtec)
  • Fexofenadine (Ex: Allegra)
  • Diphenhydramine (Ex: Benadryl)

While OTC antihistamines can effectively manage allergy symptoms, they may cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness. It is important for individuals to carefully read the instructions and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

Prescription Antihistamines

An allergist may recommend prescription antihistamines for individuals with more severe or persistent spring allergies. These medications are often stronger and more targeted than OTC options, providing greater relief from symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy eyes.

Prescription antihistamines are often prescribed when OTC medications fail to provide adequate relief or when patients experience significant side effects from OTC options. Allergists can work with individuals to find the most effective prescription for their specific needs, taking into account factors such as symptom severity, medical history, and potential drug interactions.

Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays

Nasal corticosteroid sprays are a highly effective treatment for managing spring allergies, particularly for those who experience persistent nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. These prescription medications reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, block histamine release, and decrease mucus production.

Some commonly prescribed nasal corticosteroid sprays include:

  • Fluticasone propionate (Ex: Flonase)
  • Mometasone furoate (Ex: Nasonex)
  • Budesonide (Ex: Rhinocort)
  • Triamcinolone acetonide (Ex: Nasacort)

Nasal corticosteroid sprays are generally safe and well-tolerated when used as directed by a healthcare professional. They are most effective when used consistently, often on a daily basis, to prevent and control allergy symptoms throughout the spring season.

Nasal Antihistamine Sprays

Options for nasal antihistamines include:

  • Zelastine
  • Olopatadine

Combination nasal steroid/nasal antihistamine sprays:

  • Dymista
  • Ryaltris

Ipratropium bromide spray can significantly help in the reduction of runny nose and post-nasal drip.

Allergy shots (immunotherapy)

Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, are a long-term treatment option for individuals with severe or persistent spring allergies. This treatment involves regular injections of gradually increasing doses of the allergens responsible for triggering symptoms, helping the immune system build tolerance over time.

They work by exposing the body in stages to an allergen so that the body ‘learns’ not to react to that trigger. The principle is similar to a vaccine, which exposes the body to a small amount of a virus and then allows the body to build its immune response.

Allergy shots are typically recommended for individuals who have not found relief from other preventative measures or medications or those who experience significant side effects from allergy medications. While the treatment process can take several months or even years, many patients report a significant reduction in their allergy symptoms and an improved quality of life as a result of immunotherapy.

There has been much-proven success in conditions such as:

Non-Medical Spring Allergy Prevention

In addition to medical preventative treatments, several non-medical strategies can be employed by individuals to reduce their exposure to allergens and minimize spring allergy symptoms.

These strategies focus on creating a clean, allergen-free environment at home and work, as well as monitoring outdoor pollen count to avoid exposure during peak times.

Indoor air purifiers

Indoor air purifiers can effectively reduce allergens within the home, such as pollen, dust mites, and mold spores. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are particularly effective at capturing airborne allergens, removing up to 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size.

When selecting an air purifier, it is important to choose a unit that is appropriately sized for the room in which it will be used and to replace filters regularly as per the manufacturer’s instructions. By incorporating air purification into a comprehensive spring allergy prevention plan, individuals can significantly reduce their exposure to indoor allergens and minimize symptoms.

Avoidance of allergens and environmental triggers

Avoiding allergens and environmental triggers is a crucial component of spring allergy prevention. Individuals can take steps to minimize their exposure to pollen, dust mites, and mold spores by keeping windows closed during high pollen days, using air conditioning to filter the air, and regularly cleaning and vacuuming the home with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner.

When spending time outdoors during the spring season, allergy sufferers should monitor local pollen counts and limit their activities during peak hours, typically early morning and late afternoon. Wearing a hat, sunglasses, and a face mask can help reduce the amount of pollen that comes into contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth while changing clothes, and showering after spending time outside can help remove allergens from the skin and hair.

Checking daily pollen forecasts

Checking daily pollen forecasts is a simple yet effective way to stay informed about the levels of airborne allergens in the environment. Many weather websites, local news stations, and allergy-specific apps provide daily pollen counts and forecasts, allowing individuals to plan their activities accordingly.

By monitoring pollen levels and limiting outdoor exposure during peak times, allergy sufferers can significantly reduce their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. Pollen forecasts often include information on the types of pollen present, such as tree, grass, or weed pollen, which can help individuals identify their specific triggers and take targeted preventative measures.

Spring allergies can be a significant burden for many individuals, causing uncomfortable symptoms and impacting daily life. While completely avoiding allergens may be impossible, combining medical treatments and non-medical strategies can effectively prevent or minimize symptoms.

Jordana Goldman
Jordana Goldman
Medically Reviewed By: Jordana Goldman, MD
Reviewed on: May 6, 2024

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