Updated May 2017
Seasonal Allergies & Symptoms
Dealing with allergy symptoms? Read below as we discuss the specific allergy seasons, symptoms, testing options and possible treatments.
What are the allergy seasons?
- End of Feb-May: Tree pollen
- May-July: Grass pollen
- Late July-early August (until the first frost): Ragweed pollens
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include
- Itchy and watery eyes and nose
- Sneezing and nasal congestion
- Itching in the mouth, ears, and skin
- Hives and flares of eczema (patches of itching and irritated skin)
- Asthma symptoms
- Feeling tired, foggy and irritable
Symptoms will flare with exposure to the allergen that you are sensitive to.
Allergy Testing & Treatment Options
How do you test for allergies?
After you make an appointment with a board certified allergist, (ACAAI.org and AAAAI.org can help you locate an allergist in your area) he or she will conduct different tests. The best test is the skin test, but there are also lab tests available.
Skin test results are available on the day of testing and are read 15-20 minutes after they are placed.
Young children to older patients can have allergy skin testing, so if symptoms are present, do not wait to see the allergist.
Positive skin and blood tests should be interpreted by an experienced allergist/immunologist and should correlate with the symptoms they are having that time of year.
For example, if you are having most of your symptoms on August 15 and have a positive test to ragweed, that is the culprit. It is common if you have multiple allergies.
What’s New in Allergy Treatment?
Allergy Tablets (SLIT)
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved three sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) products.
These are tablets that are placed under the tongue and dissolve. Two are for grass pollen allergies and one is for ragweed allergies. These are the first three SLIT products approved for use in the United States.
To get the most benefit from these tablets, you must start taking them 8-16 weeks prior to the start of that pollen season. This allows the body’s immune system to create a resistance to the allergic response.
SLIT treatments approved by the FDA will display a warning that severe allergic reactions, some of which can be life-threatening, can occur. For this reason, the first dose is taken in the allergy/immunology office where you can be observed for at least 30 minutes, ensuring a severe adverse reaction does not occur.
What ages are the allergy tablets approved for?
Depending on what product is prescribed by your allergist
- Grass tablets: 5-10 years- 65 years old
- Ragweed tablet: 18-65 years old
How do the tablets differ from traditional allergy shots?
Allergy Shots (SCIT)
Allergy shots (AKA allergy immunotherapy/Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT)) are given by a needle under the skin of the arm.
They are started on a weekly basis and then after about 6-8 months progress to monthly injections, usually for a period of 3-5 years.
A patient can be desensitized to many different allergens via this method and is customized to each specific patient, but does not include desensitization to foods. Side effects are generally local redness or itching, but sometimes more serious reactions can occur and for this reason are only to be given in a doctor’s office.
Allergy Tablets (SLIT)
The allergy tablets (SLIT) have only been approved for grass and ragweed at this point. The tablets are not a therapy for food allergy.
Therapy is started 8-16 weeks prior to the allergy season and then continued throughout the season daily. This can be done seasonally for 3 seasons and the studies have shown some lasting effect on symptom relief.
One protocol may have the patient take the medication year round on a daily basis. Main side effects include itching of the mouth, tongue or throat, but occasionally can progress to a more diffuse allergic reaction, so first tablet and maybe even the second tablet must be administered in the doctor’s office.
Patients may continue to use traditional allergy medications during initial stages of treatment, but over time will require less nasal spray and traditional oral antihistamine.
Which treatment provides the most relief from allergy symptoms?
Avoidance is the key, but not always possible, especially with pollen allergy
- Antihistamines 8% improvement in symptoms
- Nasal steroid 18% improvement in symptoms
- Allergy tablets (SLIT) 40-50% improvement in symptoms
- Allergy shots (SCIT) 60%+ improvement in symptoms
Do You Need Relief From Your Allergies?
Call us to schedule your appointment today 440-333-1107
Save time at the office by downloading our new patient registration form and filling it out before your first visit.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not replace medical care from a licensed physician. If you have a medical concern, please contact your doctor.