According to Albany ENT and Allergy Services Specialist Dr. Gavin Setzen, pollen allergies occur during specific times of the year. In the Capital Region, tree pollen first appears in March or April, when trees and flowers bloom; grass pollen is usually first noted in May and continues to be a concern through June and early summer.
By late July into August, weed pollens (like ragweed) appear and can last into the fall until the first hard frost. Non-pollen allergens, like mold, can be found throughout the year, but are often higher in early Spring when the snow melts and Fall when the leaves have fallen.
There are steps you can take to reduce your allergy symptoms. Avoiding the allergy trigger is first and foremost. Stay indoors when pollen counts are at their peak, especially on dry, windy days. This usually occurs during the early morning and evening hours. Close windows and run the air conditioner. If you have to go outside, wear sunglasses and consider a dust mask. When driving, keep the windows rolled up and the AC running.
Over-the-counter medications can help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Antihistamines will help reduce sneezing, itching, watery eyes and runny nose. Popular choices include Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra and Xyzal. Nasal sprays like Flonase, Rhinocort, Nasacort and Nasonex are very effective in improving nasal congestion and postnasal drip symptoms.
Irrigating the nasal passages with a Neti pot or similar sinus rinse can also prove beneficial. If medical treatment is ineffective, talk to your doctor about alternative options such as immunotherapy (allergy shots).