May 26, 2023

Warm weather is finally here, which means fun in the sun and opening doors and windows to get some fresh air. But that also means the outdoors get into our homes and can start to cause allergies.

Coughing, sneezing, congestion, eye rubbing, and itchiness are just a few of the symptoms that make us all miserable. These symptoms are also problematic when understanding whether it is a viral illness or seasonal allergies.

A cold or viral illness usually comes suddenly. It can be associated with a fever but typically will resolve within one to two weeks. Seasonal allergies will not cause fever and may be present for weeks or months. Allergies can cause sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, and itchy eyes, and symptoms people often refer to as “hay fever.”

Seasonal allergies tend to occur at certain times of the year. Most seasonal allergies are caused by:

• Pollens from trees, grasses, or weeds (spring and summer)

• Mold spores, which grow when the weather is humid, wet, or damp (fall)

Some people have symptoms like those of seasonal allergies, but their symptoms last all year. Year-round symptoms are usually caused by the following:

• Insects, such as dust mites and cockroaches

• Animals, such as cats and dogs

• Mold spores

Many people develop seasonal allergies as kids, which can become a lifelong problem. These symptoms can get better or worse over time. Allergies can also run in families. People with seasonal allergies usually breathe in these allergies. With seasonal allergies, the immune system acts as if the substance or allergen harms the body, and allergy symptoms occur.

Several over-the-counter (OTC) products can help with allergy symptoms. Some of these may make you sleepy (or, at high doses, be dangerous to children), so please discuss what medications may be best with your primary care provider.

By Daniel Moorman, MD
CHAS Health Pediatrician