What's the Difference Between Seasonal and Perennial Allergies?

When you have an allergy, your immune system is reacting to a substance it sees as foreign and harmful to your body. That reaction causes the watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing you’re probably familiar with — those are ways your body tries to get rid of the substances it doesn’t like. 

You may have heard people refer to allergies as “seasonal” and “perennial” and wonder what exactly the difference is. It’s not hard, really! 

Dr. Laura Ispas of Allergy Asthma & Immunology Institute in Leesburg, Virginia, is here to explain everything you need to know about seasonal and perennial allergies. 

Seasonal vs perennial allergies

If you have seasonal allergies, your symptoms show up and go away around the same time each year. For example, let’s say you’re allergic to pollen from trees. Most trees start to pollinate anytime between January and April, which explains why you might start to feel allergy symptoms in those months. 

If you’re only allergic to tree pollen, your symptoms should start to dissipate by late spring or early summer, when trees stop pollinating. 

If you have perennial allergies, however, your symptoms may be chronic and persist year-round, or they may show up intermittently throughout the year. This means you’re allergic to substances that are always in the air, such as mold, dust mites, or pet dander.  

What causes seasonal and perennial allergies

Both seasonal and perennial allergies are a condition called allergic rhinitis. Many people also refer to seasonal allergies as “hay fever.” Both conditions are caused by the same thing — your immune system attacking an invader — but differ in duration, as explained above. 

The actual allergens differ between seasonal and perennial allergies, too. Seasonal allergens include tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen. Perennial allergens include dust mites, mold, pet dander, and some insects, particularly cockroaches. 

Symptoms of allergies 

Whether you have seasonal or perennial allergies, you can expect a number of symptoms, including: 

 

How to treat seasonal and perennial allergies

In a perfect world, you’d be able to avoid your allergens. But that’s hard to do, and we don’t expect you to miss out on the beautiful spring weather because you’re stuck inside with a box of tissues! 

To treat seasonal and outdoor allergies, try out these tips from Dr. Ispas: 

To treat perennial or indoor allergies, try these tips: 

If you’re taking measures to tackle your allergies but your symptoms still persist, it may be time to see an allergy specialist like Dr. Ispas. To learn more about seasonal and perennial allergies or to schedule a consultation at our Leesburg, Virginia, office, call us today or request an appointment online. 

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