Allergy basics

Seasonal vs. perennial allergies
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Seasonal vs. perennial allergies

2011-06-27

By Dr. Rémi Gagnon

When talking about perennial or seasonal allergies, we are talking about respiratory allergies, For people suffering of seasonal allergies, their symptoms will occur only during a particular period of the year, while people diagnosed with perennial allergies will be inconvenienced all year. Seasonal allergies are commonly known as hay fever. Hay refers to grass pollen, which is present in the environment mainly from mid-June to mid-August. It is preferable to use the term “seasonal allergies” because there are different pollens that cause respiratory allergies in spring and late summer.

In the spring, tree pollen is responsible for symptoms. Birch pollen is especially allergenic. Rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis are quite prevalent in May in Québec. Toward the end of summer, weed pollens cause allergies. Ragweed produces the pollen that is most often at fault. Pollens in late summer are often present in the environment until the first frost of autumn. Pollen indexes broadcast in various media often help us identify the most likely cause of symptoms, depending on the period.

When talking about perennial allergies (lasting throughout the year), the allergens involved are usually those in our immediate environment. Animals in the home or workplace and dust mites are the allergens that are most likely to produce chronic allergy symptoms. Patients who suffer from seasonal allergies generally describe symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and itchy nose or eyes and even the palate. They sometimes occur very sporadically in a given outdoor environment. Congestion occurs when seasonal allergies last for a long period of time. Symptoms of perennial allergies are more often chronic. Patients most often complain of congestion. Nasal discharge occurs mainly upon waking in the morning while other classic symptoms of allergies are not experienced.
Many people think they’re not allergic to their pet because they don’t show acute symptoms, but they’re congested and often receive treatment for sinusitis or bronchitis in the winter without realizing they might be allergic to dust mites or their pet.

If you suffer from perennial allergies, it doesn’t mean you can’t suffer from seasonal allergies. These patients often present with acute symptoms that crop up during a given period of the pollen season. Conversely, there are patients who have seasonal allergies that they don’t treat properly and whose symptoms may become chronic, with congestion that can last through fall and winter, even if they don’t have perennial allergies.

The views expressed are solely those of the author based on his/her knowledge and expertise and do not necessarily represent the views of the manufacturer.

If you think you are experiencing allergy symptoms, please consult your healthcare professional for a definitive diagnosis.

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