Seasonal allergy symptoms can be annoying when they show up. A runny nose could spoil your day in the sun, while trying to master work spreadsheets through watery eyes can be tough. Knowing the signs to look for can help you manage your symptoms better.
Also known by the catchy name of ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis’ (which really means irritation or inflammation of the nose), seasonal allergies typically refers to an allergic reaction to pollen. Once that nuisance pollen powder gets inside you, it triggers a variety of annoying – and sometimes painful - symptoms.
Symptoms in adults can vary, depending on the:
- Person affected
- Type of pollen
You might be lucky and only get mild symptoms or you could end up with a few all at once. Either way, allergy symptoms can last for weeks and months – however, long you’re exposed to pollen causing an allergic reaction.
Is It a Cold or Allergies?
Many allergy symptoms overlap with those you get with a cold, so it can be hard to say which you’ve got. There are a few key differences between symptoms:
Colds can take one to three days to start after coming into contact with the virus and normally last for up to a week. Allergy symptoms begin immediately after pollen exposure and continue until you’re no longer exposed to the allergens.
What Are the Main Seasonal Allergy Symptoms?
Symptoms of seasonal allergies vary from person to person. You’ll usually be struck with one or more of the same handful of key symptoms to let you know allergy season truly has arrived. A season that is getting longer.
The main signs and symptoms of allergies include:
- Sneezing and coughing
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- Loss of smell
- Pain around your temples and forehead
- Feeling tired
sneezing – whether big loud blasts or small squeaky sniffles - can be a sign pollen is irritating your nose. Coughing tends to be because the mucus that hasn’t escaped through your nose is dripping down your throat
unlike the thick mucus you’d associate with a cold, nasal discharge from allergies tends to be clearer and thinner.
for many, this is the most annoying symptom. Watery eyes are your body’s way of giving pollen hit areas a quick shower, trying to wash it out. Eyes can become itchy, sticky and red as your immune system reacts to the pollen.
similar to itchy eyes, these parts of your body are also hit by your immune reaction to contact with pollen and become annoyingly itchy.
if food tastes different or things smell weird (and your partner’s not cooking), it could be a sign of allergies.
allergens can create pockets of pain around your sinuses (that area behind your cheekbones and forehead).
sinus pain from allergies can also trigger headaches.
the lining of the tubes in your ear can inflame when it reacts with pollen. Just to add to your discomfort.
if these symptoms don’t make you want to curl up in bed, then the immune system going into overdrive and releasing chemicals that make you doze off will.
Many of these symptoms can also be related to other illness, reactions or even Covid. If you’re at all worried about these symptoms, they have come on suddenly and unexpectedly or have got much worse, speak to your doctor.
Mild Allergy Symptoms
General tiredness is a fairly mild effect of having allergies, normally a side effect from not sleeping properly as you cough and sneeze all night long. You might keep waking up due to a blocked or runny nose or other symptoms like a sore throat that causes you to get up for a glass of water.
Sneezing, coughing and a runny nose are common symptoms that can vary greatly in severity – from being a little uncomfortable and mildly irritating to requiring a lot of attention. The same goes for ear and headaches, which can be rarer and vary in their pain levels.
Severe Allergy Symptoms
Itchy eyes, nose, throat and/or mouth are some of the most severe allergy symptoms. These can disrupt your daily life, especially symptoms affecting your eyes that may impair your vision – meaning you might need to take the day off work or ditch that family trip to the park.
While earache is a less common symptom, it can develop and become quite severe. As the passages around your nose and throat swell due to an allergic reaction, it can lead to blockages in your ear, difficulty hearing and quite a painful experience.
Certain irritants can also make your symptoms of allergy worse. As your nose inflames due to an allergic reaction to pollen, it’s more sensitive and exposure to the following irritants can make symptoms worse:
- Wood and tobacco smoke
- Air pollution and irritating fumes
- Aerosol sprays
- Strong odors
- Changes in temperature and humidity
Long-Term Allergy Symptoms
Bad allergy symptoms might only last for a few days (yippee!) but cause long-term effects that go on for weeks and even months if left untreated (boo!). Such symptoms can include:
- Clogged ears
- Sore throat
- Reduced sense of smell
- Fatigue and irritability
- Puffiness or dark circles under your eyes
Even if these start out as mild symptoms, the longer they go on the worse impact they can have on other areas of your health. Those who have any long-term allergy symptoms can also experience:
- Poor sleep quality, leading to ongoing tiredness
- An increase in asthma symptoms
- Lack of energy and productivity, resulting in missed school, work or social activities
- Ear infections (especially for kids)
- Eye infections and conjunctivitis
- Sinus inflammation and constant congestion that develops into sinusitis
Short or long-term, knowing the symptoms and signs of seasonal allergies will help you
Thin, watery discharge.
Thicker discharge can be yellow.
Low grade fever.
Head and earache.