The allergies that appear only at certain times of the year and result from the exposure to airborne substances (e.g. pollens).
The main causes of seasonal allergies include the following:
- Airborne allergens, such as animal dander, mold, pollen and dust.
You may be at risk of developing any seasonal allergy if you fall in any of the following categories:
- A family history of asthma or allergies, such as hives or hay fever
- Certain diseases such as asthma or another allergic condition
Signs and symptoms:
Allergic reactions can vary from mild to severe depending on the type of substance involved. It can affect patient’s sinuses, airways, and nasal passages. Also, skin and digestive system are affected. Anaphylaxis is the life-threatening reaction that may occur in severe allergies. Some common signs and symptoms that may include:
- Coughing and sneezing.
- Stuffy and runny nose.
- Watery eyes with mild to moderate irritation
- Inflammation in sinuses, throat, or ear canals may cause itchiness
- Congestion in ears
- Post-nasal drainage
How does it occur?
Allergy is basically the clinical expression of atopy, which is the predisposition for production of IgE (a substance produced by the immune system when it reacts to an allergy). The immune response of the human body is totally dependent on the two subdivisions of T-lymphocytes (a subtype of white blood cells, important for the immune system) that are known as T helper cells TH1 and TH2. Normally, in the immune response, the T Helper 1 cells release a variety of substances (called mediators) that help the body to defend itself against the foreign invasions from parasites, viruses, and bacteria.
Now talking about the atopic individuals (one who has an allergy), their T Helper 2 cells and their mediators make their immune system to recognize the allergens (the allergy-causing substance) as a foreign invader, and thus, start a response against them.
The first step in allergy is the sensitization of an allergen. These allergens are identified by the specific kind of cells in the body (called Antigen presenting cells). This can take place in many ways, such as inhaling these substances through the nose and lungs. These specific cells usually move to come into contact with the allergen which is detected as an invader. Then, the allergen is absorbed by them. Then, there is the migration of this cell to the defensive cells of the body (as mentioned earlier T-cells) and thus, body’s allergic response is initiated. The body produces particular substances called antigens which is the main reason of the symptoms of allergy that are seen.
A period of latency starts after the period of sensitization. An allergic response is then triggered on the re-exposure of the allergen. So whenever this specific matter come into contact with the body. All the above-mentioned process starts in the body.
How to cope with them?
Seasonal allergies are treated in following ways:
- Avoiding the allergen: This is normally the most important and the first step in preventing any kind of allergic reactions and relieving the symptoms. The doctor helps the patient to identify the allergen and avoid it with some simple steps.
- Medicines: Depending on the extent of symptoms, medications might help in the reduction of the reaction of the immune system and ease the symptoms. Usually, the doctors prescribe over the counter medication which are in the form of pills or liquid, eye drops or nasal sprays.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment includes a course of injections of purified allergen extracts that are normally given over a period of a few years. This treatment is used when the allergic responses are very severe. Sublingual pills are also used to treat some pollen allergies.
- Epinephrine: If a person is suffering from a severe allergy, he or she needs to carry an emergency epinephrine shot with them at all times as they can have an allergic reaction any time. The emergency epinephrine shots (such as Auvi-Q, EpiPen, among others) can help reduce the symptoms until the patient is transferred to the emergency room.
How are probiotics a smart way to deal with them?
Probiotics are the medications having live microbes that can help in increasing the number of good bacteria that are present in the intestines. According to the recent searches, these are also called “friendly bacteria” as they may help take some of the misery out of seasonal allergies. These probiotic bacteria are found in some certain foods, including yogurt with live active cultures, kefir and sauerkraut, and other supplements. Probiotics can change the equilibrium of bacteria in the human intestines, but in a good way that helps the immune system from starting allergic response to pollens and other allergens, which may help reduce allergy symptoms. However, Dr. Justin Turner said, who is an ear nose and throat (ENT) surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, that the scientific jury is still deciding if the probiotics and the probiotic medications are an effective treatment for treating seasonal allergies, as they are quite effective in treating the hay fever.
Disadvantages of probiotics:
Probiotics are considered safe to use for the healthy individuals but there is another side to the picture. So the probiotics may have some short-term side effects such as bloating and gas. Although there effect is usually seen on the functioning of the internal body but the evidence suggests that sometimes, they may cause overstimulation of one’s immune system- that may lead to several other health problems. Also, it can cause disturbances in the inner metabolism (the overall chemical reactions happening in the body) of the body. Therefore, people with the compromised immune system or with bowel problems are always asked to consult their physician before starting any kind of probiotics. In people with underlying health problems, probiotics may cause certain infections that may need antibiotics to be treated.