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DrSugar Answers: Seasonal Allergies

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I have had a perpetually congested nose for about three or four years now. I didn't have allergies as a child, but I think they developed as I got older.

My symptoms include: frequent sinus headaches, worse in Fall and Spring, congested nose, which runs like crazy when I run, but also it becomes harder for me to breathe through. Am I right in thinking these are probably allergy symptoms? I have never been to a doctor about it – should I see a general physician or an allergist? Thanks!
Allergy Alice

To see what DrSugar has to say,


Every Spring and Summer allergies flare and people run to doctor’s offices and pharmacies looking for relief. Allergies can be tricky to diagnose and treat, because different people have different symptoms and not everyone responds to the standard treatments. The symptoms you describe, chronic sinus congestion and sinus headaches made worse when outdoors in the Spring and Fall, are entirely consistent with seasonal allergies. Other symptoms include itchy watery eyes, sneezing, and potentially worsening of asthma symptoms.

The first step in treating your allergies is determining what allergens are affecting you, so you can avoid them. If you only have symptoms every year during the Spring and Summer then pollen is most likely the culprit. If you have symptoms all year long then you could be allergic to dust mites or a pet. Allergy detection can be made simply by deduction, but can also be easily tested by an allergist with skin prick testing.

There are many potential treatment options for seasonal and chronic allergies. Since you can't really avoid the great out of doors, taking over the counter oral antihistamines Claritin and Zyrtec may help. Air purifiers can also help remove pollens and other impurities from the air in your home. Other treatments include nasal steroids such as Nasonex or Flonase, which can also be helpful for chronic sinus symptoms due to allergies. I would certainly start by seeing your primary care doctor, but keep in mind that allergists can be very helpful when it comes to difficult allergy problems.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

Join The Conversation
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
Okay, I said above that I have been suffering from allergies for years. Because I am always congested, always have sinus pressure, always a runny nose, lots of temperature changes, sneeze all the time.... So, I go to get my allergy test and I do not have any allergies!! I encourage all of you to get an allergy test! Now I have to get a cat scan to see what really is going on, since I don't have allergies but definitely have sinus problems :(
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Ok, I tried the neti pot last night for the first time and IT IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I highly recommend it to everyone - I need to keep using it for a while, I think to get long-term effects, but I noticed an instant difference and I was able to sleep with my mouth closed (I have a blocked nose every night) the whole night. Fantastic. The best £17 I've ever spent. It feels really weird at first, but I quickly got used to it, though I have more trouble doing it on my left side than right.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Underyourwaves, I'll let you know how it goes when I get mine - hehe! But I'm still kinda scared about water up my nose ... oh well, I'm willing to try it.
underyourwaves underyourwaves 9 years
I have asthma *AND* seasonal allergies and it's awful. I've never heard of Neti pot but I'm now tempted to check it out.
emalove emalove 9 years
I developed allergies when I was 22 years old...didn't have ANY as a child and now it seems I'm allergic to everything! I've been using Nasonex for awhile now and it helps greatly. I was taking Allegra as well, but now I'm using Zyrtec. Most days, I get some relief from my allergies with this combination.
bodiezeffa bodiezeffa 9 years
I thought that is you are totally congested that the neti pot doesn't work; you have to have some air flow. Right or wrong?
BeautyXRush BeautyXRush 9 years
Claritin does nothing for me. I still take it though. Since I have nothing else to take. This is my first time experiencing allergies. Its horrible once I step outside my eyes start to water. Hate it.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
I take Claritin and usually get sinus infections as well, but I've just ordered a Neti pot from Amazon today, and am excited to try it out after hearing lots of users' success stories on here! I'd like to not depend on medication like Flonase, etc. if possible because I'm sure my I'm becoming immune to them. Zyrtec does nothing for me now and Claritin barely works.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I am getting my allergy testing tomorrow. I have been suffering from allergies forever but have never been to a doctor for it until recently. I tried nose sprays but that's a joke. I'm going to look into this neti pot thing, I have never heard of it. But honestly, I'd rather just have my nose permanently fixed than dealing with it every single day.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I have to say I am so glad I don't suffer from seasonal allergies.
kia kia 9 years
I have a sinus infection right now and have been loving our neti pot for a couple of days.
fantome14 fantome14 9 years
I have these kind of allergies too, and the nly non-prescription thing that really helps me is a neti pot.
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