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We all know someone or have met a person that seems to sneeze a lot, always has runny nose or blocked nostrils during a particular time of the year or even all through the year.

Having the above listed symptoms during a particular time of the year is called having seasonal allergies. An estimated 1.5 million cases of seasonal allergies happen every year in Nigeria. According to the Center for Disease Control, ‘allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States leading to healthcare costs in excess of $186 million.

Allergies are not life threatening but can considerably impair an individual’s quality of life thereby reducing productivity at work, school or home.

What are allergies?

This is simply a condition whereby the immune system overreacts when exposed to certain foreign substances. It produces certain substances called ‘antibodies’ that then cause symptoms in a bid to get rid of the foreign substances.

Seasonal allergies are mainly due to the body reacting to environmental substances such as pollen, mold, weed, grass.

Pollen can cause seasonal allergies

Why are they worse during flu season?

Flu season varies from country to country. In Nigeria, it usually happens during the rainy season which spans from May till September. However, in temperate regions of the world, it occurs between December till March.

Now, flu season coincides with: – Plant growth and increased pollen production

  • Increased mold production
  • Cold weather

So it’s not surprising that symptoms of allergies worsen at this period because of the increase in environmental allergens.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose/ blocked nostrils
  • Itchy red eyes
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing

How can we reduce the incidence of allergies during the flu season?

  1. Keeping a diary: this enables you to know the substances you react to. It also helps to let you know when you tend to have more allergies and prepare.
  2. Keeping windows and doors closed as much as possible to reduce exposure.
  3. Stay indoors: this may be difficult, but its best to avoid places that have lots of flowers and greenery so as to avoid setting off the symptoms.
  4. Taking fruits rich in Vitamin C such as Tomatoes and Citrus fruits.

What happens when I have these Symptoms?

Then you need to see a doctor so they can prescribe appropriate medications for you and test your body for various substances you might react to (allergen testing).

Over-the-counter medications can help relieve symptoms

Some over the counter drugs that may offer relief include: Anti-histamines, Anti-inflammatory tablets, eye and nasal decongestants.