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Seasonal Allergies. By Our April Student Pharmacist, Mark Borns.


Spring time means that flowers and leaves begin to bloom. While the warmth and colorful scenery is a pleasant change from the winter season, the pollen can cause irritating allergy symptoms for millions of people.

Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can make you miserable. Thankfully there are some simple strategies you can use to help prevent allergy symptoms.

What are seasonal allergies and the symptoms?

Seasonal allergies lead to inflammation of the nasal passages that causes annoying symptoms including:

  • Nose – Watery nasal discharge, blocked nasal passages, sneezing, nasal itching, postnasal drip, loss of taste, facial pressure or pain
  • Eyes – Itchy, red eyes, feeling of grittiness in the eyes, swelling and blueness of the skin below the eyes
  • Throat and ears – Sore throat, hoarse voice, congestion or popping of the ears, itching of the throat or ears
  • Sleep – Mouth breathing, frequent awakening, daytime fatigue, difficulty performing work

If these symptoms only last a short time, they could be caused by an infection or virus such as the common cold. If these symptoms last for longer periods of time, such as weeks or months, they are probably a result of seasonal allergies. The symptoms can vary during your lifetime and usually are most severe in children or adults in their thirties or forties.


What are common seasonal allergy causes?

Seasonal allergies are caused by a nasal reaction to airborne particles, such as pollen from flowers, called allergens. While the timing and severity of allergy seasons vary across the country, the following climate factors also can influence how bad your symptoms might be:

  • Tree, grass, and ragweed pollens thrive during cool nights and warm days.
  • Molds grow quickly in heat and high humidity.
  • Pollen levels tend to peak in the morning hours.
  • Rain washes pollen away, but pollen counts can soar after rainfall.
  • On a day with no wind, airborne allergens are grounded.
  • When the day is windy and warm, pollen counts surge.

Do I need to see a doctor for seasonal allergies?

There are many options available to treat seasonal allergies over-the-counter (OTC). While your doctor would be able to make a formal allergy diagnosis, speaking to your local pharmacists can prove to be more timely and cost effective. Describing your symptoms to your pharmacist will help them recommend an OTC allergy medicine that will help alleviate your symptoms.

Young man in yellow canola field blowing his nose and suffering from pollen allergy.

How are seasonal allergies treated?

If your symptoms primarily include only nasal congestion, you may be able to use a nasal steroid spray or decongestant. If you have more of the common allergy symptoms such as watery eyes or runny nose, an oral antihistamine could be a good option for you. These types of medications are available OTC and many have affordable generic alternatives, too. Talking with your local pharmacist can help you make the best choice for which product might be right for you.

Can I treat seasonal allergies without medicine?

Other methods besides taking medication can be used to help decrease or prevent allergy symptoms. Some useful tips for allergy preventative habits around the home during allergy season include:

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling, and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don’t hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • Change air filters and properly maintain forced air heating and cooling systems in your home.


  1. Hay fever. Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343. Accessed April 6, 2016.
  2. Allergic rhinitis. Up to Date. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/contents/allergic-rhinitis-seasonal-allergies-beyond-the-basics?source=search_result. Accessed April 6, 2016.
  3. Seasonal Allergies. ACAAI Available at: http://acaai.org/allergies/types/seasonal. Accessed April 6, 2016.


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