Seasonal allergies are a constant companion for many individuals and represent a major health factor for millions of Americans. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, red itchy eyes, sore throat and even dark circles under the eyes.

Hay fever is often caused by pollens which are at the highest counts in higher heats, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration. Ragweed is the most common allergen in the fall which causes our immune system to release histamines and other inflammatory mediators. The spring is dominated by tree contributions, followed by flowers, weeds and molds. These all cause the same immune system response. In the United States about 75% of allergy sufferers are to ragweed and 10% are to trees.

Since we can not cure allergies, we must change our environment to best deal with them. When the outdoor allergens are high, try and stay indoors keeping the humidity below 50%. Change the filters on the air conditioners at least once a month and wear a mask outside when working in the garden. Be sure to wash hands immediately after out door activities, shower and change clothes often.

Contact lens wearers should consider reducing their wear during high allergen times and while working out doors. If contacts are worn then rub and rinse them frequently and use hydrogen peroxide systems like AOSept or OXYSept.

Medications can also be very helpful. Eye allergy drops like Patanol or Pataday are great at relieving the symptoms, and severe allergy suffers can benefit from mild topical steroid drops as well such as Lotemax or FML. Systemic antihistamines that can be purchased over the counter are useful as well, Claritin, Allegra, Benadryl etc.

Always inform your health care provider and eye doctor of all the medications that you are taking even the OTCs. They can interact with prescriptions that may be detrimental, or antagonize conditions such as glaucoma.

Author's Bio: 

This article is written by Dr. Jay Stockman, contributing author to Dr. Jay Stockman, with his partner Dr. Brian Lewy have co-managed a significant number of refractive surgery patients. Advise, and medical questions can be directed to New York Vision Associates