Do you find yourself sneezing, coughing, or wheezing during certain times of the year? If so, you could be one of more than 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies can range in symptom severity. Mild symptoms may be a general annoyance, while more severe cases can make you wonder whether you have allergies or an illness.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies can be triggered by many environmental factors. While seasonal allergies can strike throughout the year, they often affect most people as the weather turns from cool to warm, when plants and trees begin to bloom. During the warmer seasons, different plant species release airborne pollen, which causes an immune response in people with allergies. Histamines and other chemicals get released into the bloodstream, which causes an allergic reaction.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Many pollens can trigger seasonal allergies, but the most common ones include:
- Grasses, like Timothy or ryegrass
- Horse chestnut
Seasonal allergies are commonly traced back to these trees and plants because their pollens are particularly irritating. Warm, windy weather is generally the worst for seasonal allergies because pollen counts rise in warm temperatures, and the wind spreads it far and wide. Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Allergic rhinitis: a stuffy or runny nose, nasal irritation
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Itchy throat
- Congestion in the ears, throat, and nose
- Postnasal drip
Some types of seasonal allergies can also cause a secondary illness, like:
- Contact dermatitis
- Asthma or mild breathing problems
- Itchy skin, nose, and throat
Seasonal allergies can affect people of every age, but they’re especially important to treat in children because they can cause re-occurring earaches and other infections.
What to do for Seasonal Allergies
Thankfully, there are many things you can do to get some relief from seasonal allergies, including:
- Reducing pollen exposure by staying indoors
- Avoiding yard work or gardening
- Washing your hands and showering after you’ve been outdoors
- Using a pollen mask outside
- Allergy shots or immunotherapy
- Oral antihistamines
- Nasal sprays and sinus rinses
- Plant supplements, like butterbur and spirulina
HEPA Air Filters and UV Lighting
In addition to these methods, keeping the air in your home clean is one of the best and most essential ways to prevent the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The Mayo Clinic recommends always using your air conditioning and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in your home. HEPA filters are a type of mechanical air filter that works by forcing air through a fine mesh. This traps small particles that can cause allergies and asthma, like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. For those with severe allergies, it may also be worthwhile to invest in a whole-house central air purifier.
Installing UV lights throughout the home can also help with seasonal allergies. UV lights eliminate contaminants that can lead to poor air quality, including mold, mildew, fungi, airborne viruses, bacteria, and spores. While UV light doesn’t filter the air, its been shown to play a huge role in secondary allergy prevention, especially when used in combination with HEPA filters.
The best way to prevent seasonal allergy symptoms and stay comfortable year-round is to take a multi-pronged approach. Reducing your exposure outdoors while keeping the air inside your home clean and free of contaminants can greatly reduce your exposure to allergy-causing contaminants. At PECO, we offer several types of HEPA filters, as well as UV lights. Some of our filter options include Lennox 5” HEPA filter, PureAir HEPA filters, and MERV 11, 13, and 16 HEPA filters. Experts are predicting 2020 will be a bad year for allergy sufferers, especially here in the eastern United States. Above-normal rainfall and near-average temperatures are expected to contribute to above-average pollen levels. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, now is the best time to get your home prepared! If you’d like to learn more about installing HEPA filters or UV lighting in your home, give us a call at 864-639-2424.