While seasonal allergies are generally worse in spring and fall, local experts say North Texas residents deal with them all year.

Dr. Stacy Silvers, chief medical officer for Aspire Allergy and Sinus, said allergies occur because of response to pollen from the body’s immune system.

“For whatever reason, our immune system has decided that the pollen in the air is bad for us,” Silvers said. “What they do is cause a response to remove pollen from our airways as much as possible.”

Some context

Silvers said allergens can generally be broken down by types of plants:
  • Weeds, which tend to pollinate in the fall
  • Trees, which release pollen in winter and early spring
  • Grass, which pollinate late spring and into summer. Common tree allergies include mountain cedar, oak birch and cedar elm.
“On top of that, you have mold which can be up and down throughout the year,” Silvers said. “It is kind of dependent on weather factors. It tends to be higher after rain, for example.”

The details

Dr. John Van Wagoner, who is part of the medical group Southwest Allergy and Asthma Center in Frisco, said seasonal allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy and stuffy nose, coughing and itchy and red eyes. Fatigue, sore throat and headaches are also common.

“Some patients may get recurrent infections as a result of their uncontrolled allergies,” Van Wagoner said. “They may present with a secondary sore throat or facial pain and maybe a bacterial sinus infection.”

The options

Remedies for seasonal allergies include over the counter antihistamines such as Zertec or Allegra. Van Wagoner said these medications help with minor symptoms such as itchy or runny nose.

Silvers said nasal sprays such as Flonase and Nasacort work best because they help with most symptoms; however, they are also slow-acting and work best when they are started before the seasonal allergy season starts. Additionally, Silvers said saline rinses, which flush pollen from the nose, can be helpful.

If over the counter or low-dose medications aren’t improving one’s quality of life, then Van Wagoner recommends seeing a doctor. An allergist can offer immunotherapy, where an individual is exposed to allergens to build a tolerance.

Silvers said when allergies begin affecting an individual’s ability to sleep.

Although seasonal allergies occur year round in North Texas, both Van Wagoner and Silver said they are generally at their worst during spring and fall.

Quote of note

“There’s a whole host of options to help people feel better with their allergies,” Silvers said. “Treating allergies will not only make your nose and eyes feel better, but it will help your lungs as well.”