Now that the summer is upon us we can finally enjoy the many outdoor activities of summer. For many Essex County residents this is also a time where seasonal allergies can cause problems with our eyes and respiratory systems.

Seasonal allergies are caused by specific allergens such as ragweed grass or tree pollen. When these allergens come in contact with your body they are considered foreign particles. The allergens bind themselves to mast cells which are loaded with histamine. In response your immune system starts to release large quantities of histamine and other chemicals from these mast cells to combat the allergens. It is the histamine action that produces the symptoms of sneezing coughing nasal congestion red itchy and watery eyes. Seasonal allergic reactions can begin at any age. Areas that have poor air quality (such as Essex County) can result in more intense symptoms.

Unfortunately seasonal allergy symptoms can be difficult to completely eradicate. The first step in the management of this condition involves avoiding the specific allergen you are allergic to. This can be difficult especially if you are active outdoors in the summer. There are simple ways to get some relief such as keeping the windows of your home and car closed and turning the air conditioner on remembering that pollen release is at its peak in the morning and early afternoon and making sure the filters in your furnace are clean. Other more aggressive allergy relief remedies involve oral over-the-counter anti-histamine medications taken during your particular allergy season. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to determine which brand is best for your needs. For those who suffer from severe seasonal allergies allergy shots may be the treatment of choice. This is usually preceded by tests performed by an allergist to determine exactly what substances you are allergic to.

In addition to the above remedies to relieve ocular symptoms of seasonal allergies further comfort can be achieved by placing a clean face cloth soaked in ice cold water over closed eyes. Over-the-counter artificial tear drops and anti-histamine eye drops can also help reduce red itchy and watery eyes. Prescription drop medications may be considered with more severe allergic symptoms. Eye drops that combine an antihistamine and a mast cell stabilizer work best by providing immediate and long term relief.

For those who suffer from seasonal allergies the ocular symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Despite all the different remedies out there to deal with seasonal allergies there is no cure. It is not recommended to diagnose and treat your symptoms yourself. Consult your eye care professional to recommend the best therapy to provide relief from seasonal allergies.