Whether you’re experiencing seasonal allergies for the first time or have had them for years, you probably have questions, including when and how to treat them. Here’s what you should know, from our friends at the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® Program.

HOW CAN I TREAT MY SEASONAL ALLERGY SYMPTOMS?

It’s nearly impossible to avoid all allergens. Trees, grass and dust are everywhere, but over-the-counter medications can help you to manage your allergy symptoms. Decongestants and antihistamines are the most widely available types of allergy medications and can help relieve common symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itching of the eyes, nose or throat.

There are also prescription medications available to treat allergies. Talk to your doctor to see what course of treatment is right for you.

WHY DO MY ALLERGIES GET WORSE IN THE SPRING?

Spring pollen, particularly from trees, is one of the biggest allergy triggers. Rain may wash pollen away, but pollen counts will actually go up afterwards because the rainfall accelerates plant growth. It can also cause an increase in mold, another common allergen.

To help manage your exposure to allergens, keep your windows and doors closed to reduce mold and pollen in the house, and stay indoors from midday to afternoon when pollen counts are at their highest. You might also benefit from limiting your time outdoors on hot, humid or windy days.

WHAT IS A POLLEN COUNT AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT MY SEASONAL ALLERGIES?

A pollen count measures how many grains of plant pollen are in the air during a set period of time, and also measures the varieties of pollen. (In other words, the types of plants it comes from.) The pollen count changes daily and can be affected by the weather.

If you have a pollen allergy, you may notice your allergy symptoms get worse when the pollen count rises if there is a large amount of the types of pollen you are allergic to. Check the daily pollen counts on your favorite weather site, or download a tracking app if you plan on spending time outdoors.

CAN I OUTGROW MY ALLERGIES?

Yes, in some cases it’s possible to outgrow certain allergies. However, if you’re currently suffering from allergy symptoms, there are many types of treatments that may provide symptomatic relief. The first step is to visit your doctor to properly diagnosis your allergy triggers. They will recommend treatment based on your allergy test results, medical history and the severity of your symptoms.

Treatment may also involve avoiding allergens, as well as medical options such as allergy shots or immunotherapy. Again, it’s important to talk to your doctor to learn which treatment options may be right for you.