14:52 PM

When Spring Allergies Turn Into Summer Allergies



Tips on getting relief from red eyes and runny noses, so you can relax this season.

Summer is already here, but that doesn’t mean seasonal allergies are going to take any time off.

The red eyes, runny noses and sneezing associated with seasonal allergies aren’t just a spring thing. In New Jersey, grass pollen starts in May and lasts through July, followed by weeds (including ragweed) from August into November.

But seasonal allergies don’t have to bring a season of misery. Here’s how to identify your symptoms and some tips to get relief, so you can relax.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

If you have seasonal allergies, different substances in the environment, such as seasonal tree or grass pollens, can trigger your immune system to respond. These responses show up as symptoms, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching in the nose, eyes, or the roof of the mouth

With COVID-19 still around, some people may wonder if their symptoms are caused by an allergy or the coronavirus. In general, people with seasonal allergies don’t have fevers or body aches, while those with COVID-19 don’t experience sneezing. Check out this article to learn more about the differences among COVID-19, the cold, the flu and allergies.

Reduce your exposure to triggers

One of the best ways to minimize your allergy symptoms is to avoid pollen as much as possible. Try staying indoors on dry, windy days; the best time to go out is after it rains. If you’re gardening or doing outdoor chores, wear sunglasses, gloves and a pollen mask – or find a family member to help out.

You can also work to prevent pollen from getting inside your house, says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:

  • Keep windows closed.
  • Use central air conditioning with high-efficiency filters.
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home.
  • Change and wash your clothes after being outdoors.
  • Take a shower and shampoo your hair before bed.
  • Avoid hanging laundry on an outdoor line. Dry laundry in a clothes dryer or on an indoor rack.
  • Clean pets with a towel before they come in your home.

Check your local pollen count 

Avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. You can check your local news websites for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels. Or check out this tracker from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Try over-the-counter medicines

Many non-prescription medicines can ease allergy symptoms, including:

  • Oral antihistamines that can provide relief from sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Decongestants that can help relieve nasal stuffiness. Use decongestant nasal sprays only for a few days in a row because longer-term use can actually worsen symptoms.
  • Nasal sprays with cromolyn sodium that can also ease allergy symptoms, although they’re most effective when you begin using them before your symptoms start.

Sometimes people choose medications that combine an antihistamine with a decongestant, for example, when their allergies don’t respond to a single medicine.

See an allergist

If your seasonal allergies aren’t getting better by avoiding pollen or taking over-the-counter medications, you may need to see a doctor that specializes in treating allergies.

Allergists can test you to find what exactly triggers your symptoms. They can also prescribe allergy shots or tablets that can reduce symptoms over time.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey members can find a local allergist here or by using the Horizon Blue app.

This summer, many more of us are going outdoors than last year. Make sure to get the care you need so seasonal allergies don’t hold you back.