Bring on the blooming flowers and seasonal allergies – it’s spring!

Spring has officially sprung! Warmer weather brings sunshine, singing birds, fresh flowers, and, for some, the onset of spring allergies. Seasonal allergies are usually caused by pollen and mold spores in the air that trigger a reaction in that person’s immune system, resulting in symptoms that include runny noses, sneezing, hives, and rashes. Usually, for seasonal allergies, your immune system reaction to pollen or mold is a false alarm, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).

According to studies done in recent years by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), climate changes may be to blame for higher pollen counts as well as longer pollen-filled seasons of recent years. This could mean many allergy sufferers are experiencing more severe symptoms for longer now compared to the early-mid 1990s.

Faces of Saint Peter’s – Dr. Carlucci

The key to stopping allergy symptoms is to avoid the trigger. However, if the trigger is tree pollen, it can seem unavoidable in the springtime. Be sure to check the pollen index daily in the spring. On days where the index is high, try to limit your time outdoors and keep windows closed to avoid bringing pollen inside. Pollen counts are usually highest midday. To limit the amount of pollen present in your home, do not wear shoes inside the house and use a vacuum with HEPA-filtration technology regularly. HEPA – high-efficiency particulate air-filters incorporate a fine mesh that can trap pollen particles.

Over-the-counter allergy medications could also help ease symptoms. These include antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants. Talk to your primary care physician about what you can do to alleviate your allergy symptoms.  Prescription-strength antihistamines and nasal sprays, as well as allergy shots, may be necessary for relief from more severe seasonal allergy symptoms.

Allergies can mimic symptoms of a cold, especially in children, so it is important to know the key differences between the two. A full list can be found here, but some of the key differences include:

  • Red or itchy eyes can be caused by allergies but are rarely present with colds
  • Seasonal allergies do not cause fevers. Allergies last for as long as a child is exposed to an allergen, while colds last anywhere from three to 14 days.

The best plan of attack for your spring allergies? Talk to your doctor to determine if it is indeed seasonal allergies and if medication is the right remedy. For more severe cases, you may be referred to an allergist, but typically your primary care physician can help you manage your symptoms. The primary care physicians at Saint Peter’s Physician Associates attend to general health needs and act as the keeper of your medical history. In addition to conducting your annual physical exam, our physicians also advise patients on medication management, disease prevention, and overall health and wellness. To learn more about Saint Peter’s primary care physicians and book an appointment, visit