As we enter the Spring season in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area, many allergy sufferers will begin to experience the classic hay fever (i.e., allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis) and/or asthma symptoms.
The typical hay fever signs and symptoms may include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, a horizontal crease at the bottom third of the nose, itchy nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, redness of the eyes, puffy eyes, dark circles under the eyes, a line or fold in the skin below the lower eyelids, itchy mouth and throat, itchy ears, clogged ears, coughing, itchy skin, and/or sinus pressure. In the Spring in the Washington, DC metro area, the tree and grass pollens as well as molds are generally to blame for these annoying allergy symptoms. In the Fall, ragweed and molds are generally the culprits when it comes to causing hay fever symptoms. Ragweed generally begins to pollinate in mid-August and is typically ends at the first frost which is usually at the end of October.
In asthmatics, the characteristic symptoms that may occur include chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or coughing. The most common allergens that cause an increase of these asthma symptoms include tree pollens in the early Spring, grass pollens in the late Spring, and molds, which occur throughout the Spring. It is important to know that molds are prevalent throughout every month of the year and are present both indoors and outdoors. As mentioned in the paragraph above, ragweed, along with molds are the principle allergens that cause asthma exacerbations in the Fall.
It is interesting to note that there are a variety of other rarer symptoms that some individuals may notice in the Spring and Fall. In fact, these symptoms may be perennial in nature which can be confusing since they can signify other medical conditions. These less common allergy symptoms may include fatigue, “fogginess” feeling of the head, ringing of the ears (i.e., tinnitus), joint achiness, headaches, itchy mouth, abdominal pain, diarrhea, sore throat, behavioral issues (e.g., moodiness, hyperactivity, inability to concentrate), snoring, and/or rashes.
Note that the combination of fatigue, achiness, runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing can easily be misconstrued for the common cold. One should be aware that the common cold is caused by a virus, and that in general, “colds” usually last no more than 7-10 days. This means that if an individual is experiencing “cold” symptoms for a long period of time (i.e., greater than 2 weeks) and/or if he or she is experiencing recurrent “cold” symptoms every Spring or Fall, then allergies should be seriously considered and one should make an appointment with a board certified allergist such as the ones at Black & Kletz Allergy.
A few words about some of the less common seasonal allergy symptoms are discussed below:
- Fatigue: Usually occurs due to poor quality or quantity of sleep as a result of poorly controlled allergies. In some individuals, this fatigue can be rather severe.
- “Fogginess” feeling of the head: May be due to increased sinus pressure.
- Ringing of the ears: Usually due to blockage of the Eustachian tube which stems from sinus congestion.
- Joint achiness: May be due to inflammation caused by allergies
- Headaches: Seasonal allergic headaches are usually due to increased nasal and sinus congestion. They tend to be in the forehead and cheek regions of the face.
- Itchy mouth, Abdominal pain, and/or Diarrhea: Some pollen-allergic individuals have a condition called oral allergy syndrome (i.e., pollen-food allergy syndrome) whereby they have a local reaction in the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., mouth, esophagus, stomach) to certain foods (usually fresh fruits and/or vegetables). Usually these individuals will experience an itchy mouth or throat from eating these raw fruits and vegetables, however, sometimes more severe gastrointestinal reactions may occur such as abdominal pain and/or diarrhea. Some common cross-reactive foods and pollens include: birch tree pollen – apples, pears, peaches, celery, carrots; ragweed pollen – melons, bananas, kiwi.
- Sore throat: Usually associated with a post-nasal drip but can also be caused by excessive dryness due to the use of antihistamines.
- Behavioral issues: Usually die to poor quality or quantity of sleep.
- Snoring: Usually due to increased nasal congestion. Note that an increase in nasal congestion may also worsen obstructive sleep apnea and thereby cause an increase in snoring.
- Rashes: Seasonal allergies can cause a flare-up of eczema (i.e., atopic dermatitis). Some allergic individuals may develop itching and rashes when they come in direct contact with an allergen such as grass.
The board certified allergy specialists at Black & Kletz Allergy have 3 convenient locations in the Washington, DC metro area. Our offices are located in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA. All of our offices have on-site parking. For further convenience, our Washington, DC and McLean, VA offices are Metro accessible. Our McLean, VA office location offers a complementary shuttle that runs between this office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line. For an appointment, please call one of our offices or alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours by the next business day. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, it is our mission to help alleviate or end your undesirable symptoms, so that you can enjoy a better quality of life. We have been serving the community’s allergy and asthma needs for more than 50 years. Black & Kletz Allergy is dedicated to providing the highest quality allergy care in a caring, relaxed, and professional environment.