Seasonal allergies, or "allergic rhinitis," are triggered by allergens -- substances that trigger reactions in the body. Pollens or molds are among the most common allergens, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
Pollen is produced by trees, grasses, and weeds, and is easily carried by the wind. The most common pollen allergens during the spring are trees such as oak, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, walnut, and western red cedar; and grasses such as timothy, Bermuda, orchard, red top, and sweet vernal. In late summer and fall, weeds such as ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, Russian thistle, and cocklebur become problematic for allergy sufferers.
People experience symptoms because they have a sensitivity to certain allergens. The allergens, usually inhaled, combine with an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE, the "allergic antibody," is normally present in your body at very low levels. But when you develop allergies, it's produced in larger quantities. When the allergen and IgE pair up, chemicals are released that cause inflammation. The resulting symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, a runny nose, drowsiness, and headaches.
Allergies can be treated with allergy shots or medication, or you can try to avoid the allergens. It's best to avoid taking medications during pregnancy. But if your allergy symptoms are severe, your doctor will weigh the severity of your symptoms against possible risks to your baby. Educate yourself about allergy medications with this information from the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI):
If you're pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, ask your doctor about the safety of any type of allergy medication you use or plan to use.
If your allergies are worsening now that you're pregnant, it's important to avoid the pollen and mold that make your symptoms unbearable. The following tips from the AAAAI will help you decrease your exposure to the culprits that cause seasonal allergies:
Allergies can lead to other chronic conditions such as asthma. They shouldn't be ignored. If your seasonal allergy symptoms increase in severity, see an allergist. An allergist can help by conducting tests to determine what's triggering your symptoms. He'll help you manage your allergies with environmental controls and/or medications. To find an allergist in your area or to learn more about spring allergies, visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org or the ACAAI Web site at allergy.mcg.edu.
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.