Myths About Allergies in Spring | Know Your Facts
This Article is Updated on – 14/02/2024, Originally posted on – 22/06/2021
Springtime brings blooming flowers, warmer weather, and unfortunately, allergies for many people. It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies to pollen and seasonal allergens.
With spring allergies being so common, there are a lot of myths and misinformation out there about their causes and treatments. In this article, we will debunk 10 common myths about spring allergies and provide the facts you need to understand your symptoms and find relief.
Table of Contents – Myths About Allergies in Spring
Myth #1: Allergies Only Affect People in the Spring
Spring is indeed the high season for allergies with tree pollen in early spring and grass pollen in late spring being major culprits. However, allergies can happen year-round depending on what you’re allergic to.
- Perennial allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold can cause symptoms whenever you’re exposed to them.
- Some people also have allergy triggers specific to fall and winter like ragweed pollen in the fall and mold spores from fallen leaves.
So while spring allergies get a lot of attention, allergies are not limited to just this season. Getting tested can help you identify your specific triggers so you can take precautions year-round if needed.
Myth #2: Spring Allergy Symptoms Are Mild
Many people assume that spring allergy symptoms are mild, causing little more than sniffles and sneezing. However, spring allergies can cause severe and uncomfortable symptoms that disrupt sleep, work, school, and outdoor activities.
Common symptoms of spring allergies include:
- Sinus congestion – Swelling in sinus passages leads to congestion, pressure, and headaches.
- Runny nose – Excess mucus production causes a runny nose.
- Sneezing – Frequent sneezing, sometimes in bursts, as the body tries to expel allergens.
- Itchy, watery eyes – Allergens irritate the eyes causing redness, swelling, and itchiness.
- Coughing – Postnasal drip from sinus congestion leading to coughs.
- Fatigue – Allergies disrupt sleep and cause inflammation leading to tiredness.
- Irritability – Congestion, lack of sleep, and other symptoms can cause crankiness.
For many allergy sufferers, spring symptoms are not just annoying but severely affect their quality of life. Treating the symptoms is important so you can function and feel better.
Myth #3: Allergy Sufferers Must Stay Indoors During Spring
Many people mistakenly believe that if you have spring allergies, you need to stay confined indoors all spring long to avoid exposure to pollen. However, being outdoors is fine with proper treatment for your symptoms. Here are some tips:
- Take OTC or prescription allergy medications like antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and allergy eye drops. They can prevent or reduce allergy reactions.
- Use a nasal saline rinse to flush out pollen and relieve congestion. These are sold over the counter as sprays, squeezable bottles, or pot versions.
- Wear glasses or goggles and a pollution mask or N95 mask when going outside to create a barrier between your mucus membranes and pollens.
- Attach a HEPA filter to your central heating/AC system or use standalone HEPA air purifiers to filter allergens.
- Shower/wash your hair after going outside to rinse off any pollen.
- Avoid drying clothes outside as they can collect pollen.
With proactive treatments, spring allergy sufferers can still go outside and enjoy the weather without their symptoms ruining the fun. Don’t lock yourself inside!
Myth #4: Spring Allergies Can’t Be Prevented
Many people think that if you have spring allergies, there’s nothing you can do to prevent symptoms when allergy season hits. However, there are several preventative steps you can take to reduce your exposure to pollen and control symptoms.
Here are some tips for preventing spring allergy symptoms:
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning at home and in your car to reduce pollen entering.
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water to remove any pollen that accumulated from open windows.
- Limit time outdoors when pollen counts are high. Monitor pollen forecasts.
- After being outdoors, shower and change clothes to prevent spreading pollen indoors.
- Take off your shoes when entering the house so you don’t track in pollen.
- Use HEPA air purifier filters at home to clean the air of pollens.
- Take allergy medication daily rather than waiting until symptoms start.
- Consider allergy shots to gradually make your immune system less sensitive.
While not completely foolproof, being diligent about these preventative measures can help reduce spring allergy suffering. Don’t assume nothing can be done to prevent symptoms.
Myth #5: Honey and Local Honey Prevent Spring Allergies
There’s a common belief that consuming honey, especially locally produced honey, can help prevent or treat spring allergy symptoms. The theory is that by consuming local pollen in the honey, you will build up immunity through exposure. However, there is no scientific evidence showing that honey consumption helps with environmental allergies.
A recent study had participants with birch pollen allergies consume birch pollen honey or regular honey daily during allergy season. The study found no difference in symptoms between the two groups.
The pollen that causes most spring allergies is wind-pollinated from trees, grasses, and weeds. Bees do not typically collect these types of pollen. So local honey is unlikely to contain the specific pollens you are allergic to.
While honey has many health benefits, protecting against spring allergies does not seem to be one of them. Don’t get fooled by this common myth.
Myth #6: Spring Allergies Go Away After Childhood
Some people believe that allergies are only a childhood condition that most kids eventually outgrow. However, spring allergies can start at any age depending on when you become sensitized to a particular allergen.
Many children do indeed seem to outgrow certain food and environmental allergies. However other allergies persist into adulthood or develop later in life.
In one study of adults with spring allergy symptoms:
- 61% developed symptoms before age 20
- 27% developed symptoms between ages 20-40
- 12% developed symptoms after age 40
So while spring allergies often start in childhood for many, they can begin or persist through adulthood as well. Genetics, repeat exposures over time, and other factors determine if you stay sensitive or become newly sensitized.
The key is getting diagnosed with allergy testing so you know what specific triggers to look out for year-round or seasonally. Don’t assume you’ve aged out of allergies.
Myth #7: IgE Blood Tests are Needed to Diagnose Spring Allergies
Many people think you need specialized blood testing to officially diagnose spring allergies. However, for most patients with seasonal allergy symptoms, the diagnosis can be made based on symptom history and family history alone.
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) blood tests check for antibodies to specific allergens. While they can be useful, often they are not required for diagnosis.
Typical seasonal allergy symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy eyes during spring, along with a family history of allergies, are usually enough for a doctor to make a spring allergy diagnosis.
Skin prick/scratch allergy testing is another diagnostic option that checks for immediate allergic reactions to suspected triggers. This may be recommended to identify exact allergens.
However, in straightforward cases, a blood test through a lab is not required to diagnose seasonal allergies. Your doctor can make an accurate allergy diagnosis based on symptoms plus medical history. Don’t assume specialized testing is always needed.
Myth #8: Spring Allergy Symptoms Always Happen Quickly After Exposure
Many people assume that if you have spring allergies, symptoms will start immediately or within minutes after exposure to pollen. However, while allergy symptoms can come on quickly, some people experience a delayed response.
The speed of allergy symptom onset depends on the allergen and route of exposure.
- Inhaled pollens via the nose often cause more rapid symptoms like sneezing and runny nose within minutes.
- Allergens that contact the eyes can also cause fairly quick itchy, watery eyes.
- However, sometimes allergy symptoms take hours to fully manifest after exposure. Oral allergy syndrome causes delayed mild itching or swelling a few hours after eating raw fruits/vegetables.
- Even inhaled pollens can sometimes take up to 3 hours to generate symptoms like congestion or asthma flares in sensitive people.
So while allergy symptoms often start fairly quickly, don’t rule out spring allergies if your symptoms take hours to develop after contact with potential triggers. Talk to your doctor if you notice a consistent delay.
Myth #9: Antihistamines Stop All Allergy Symptoms
Antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec are commonly used to treat spring allergies. However, many patients think these oral medications will stop all their allergy symptoms, which is not the case.
Antihistamines mainly work by blocking the histamine chemical involved in allergic reactions. This prevents or reduces symptoms like:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchy skin, hives
However, antihistamines are less effective for nasal congestion. They also do not treat asthma flares associated with allergies.
Patients may still experience:
- Sinus pressure
- Postnasal drip
- Chest tightness
For these symptoms, additional allergy medications like decongestants or asthma inhalers may be needed in conjunction with antihistamines. Don’t expect antihistamines alone to resolve all spring allergy issues. Discuss all your symptoms with your doctor.
Myth #10: Allergy Shots Don’t Help Spring Allergies
Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, have been around for over a century to treat allergies. The weekly shots expose people to tiny amounts of their allergen triggers to gradually make them less sensitive. Despite the proven effectiveness of this approach, some people think allergy shots don’t work for spring allergies.
However, multiple studies have shown allergy shots significantly improve spring allergy symptoms for most people over time.
In a large 5-year study, participants receiving grass pollen allergy shots experienced:
- 40% reduction in symptoms
- 38% less need for allergy medications
- 84% increased tolerance to grass allergens
While allergy shots take up to 6 months to start working and require weekly visits at first, the long-term benefits for spring allergies make it worth it for many sufferers.
If over-the-counter medications are not controlling your spring allergies, consider discussing immunotherapy shots with an allergist. Don’t rule them out as an option without learning more.
That covers the 10 most common myths about spring allergies! Let me know if you would like me to compile these sections into a complete blog post with a table of contents. Otherwise, please feel free to use these myth-debunking sections as you see fit.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the main causes of spring allergies?
A: The most common causes are pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds. Trees pollinate early spring while grasses pollinate late spring and early summer. Ragweed is also a common fall allergy trigger.
Q: When do spring allergy symptoms start?
A: Tree pollen season starts as early as late February in warmer southern climates and goes into April and May. Grass pollen peaks from May through July. Timing varies by location and climate.
Q: Can I develop allergies as an adult?
A: Yes, you can develop new allergy sensitivities at any age. Allergies are more common in childhood but some people don’t develop them until adulthood.
Q: How are spring allergies diagnosed?
A: Based on typical symptoms and family history. Skin or blood tests can help identify specific allergen triggers.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this review are based on the author’s personal experience and research. Individual results may vary. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for proper usage and maintenance of the product.
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