UT University Health Services

Allergies (Seasonal)

Austin consistently ranks in the top five worst U.S. cities for seasonal respiratory allergies (hay fever, cedar fever, etc.). If you have allergies, you'll probably be affected by them while you're at UT.

Most respiratory allergies are just major annoyances that can make you feel lousy. However, sometimes they can lead to bacterial infections in your sinuses, ears, or lungs, which may require antibiotics. In people with asthma, allergies can lead to serious symptoms. Allergies can also aggrevate asthma symptoms.

Respiratory allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a trigger that causes inflammation and/or swelling of tissues in the nose, eyes, ears, sinuses, throat, larynx ("voice box"), and airways. Common triggers are pollens, dust, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and animal dander.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Runny, itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, swollen, burning, and/or watery eyes
  • A dry cough or one that produces minimal phlegm
  • Ear congestion or popping
  • Sinus pressure or stuffiness
  • Headache
  • Hoarseness
  • Mucous drainage from the back of the nose down the back of the throat (post-nasal drainage)
  • Throat tickle
  • Itching of the soft tissue at the upper, back part of your mouth

How to Manage Allergies

  • Reduce exposure to triggers.
  • Keep your home, especially your bedroom, as dust-free as possible.
  • Bathe pets frequently; keep them off your bed and upholstered furniture.
  • Close windows in your home and car.
  • Limit time outdoors when pollen, molds, or other triggers are high.
  • An air purifyer may help, but they receive mixed reviews.
  • Try a prefilled sterile saline irrigation.
  • For sneezing, runny nose, post-nasal drainage, and itchy, watery eyes, take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine.

Over the Counter Medications for Seasonal Allergies

  • Brand names listed as examples do not imply better quality over other brands. Generic equivalents may also exist.
  • Use only as directed on the package, unless your healthcare provider instructs you to do otherwise.
  • OTCs may interact with other medications or be potentially harmful if you have certain medical conditions. Talk to your pharmacist about options that are right for you.

Cetirizine (example: Zyrtec®)
Fexofenadine (example: Allegra®)
Loratadine (example: Claritin®)
Sedating - Diphenhydramine (example: Benadryl®)

Eye Drops:
Antihistamine (example: Zaditor®)
Anithistamine/Decongestant (example: Naphcon A®)

Call the UHS Appointments line at (512) 471-4955 during regular hours if:

In spite of using self-care measures, your allergy symptoms continue and significantly interfere with your ability to work, study, or enjoy leisure activities. Prescription medication and/or allergy shots may be options for you.

UT students who have started an allergy desensitization program (allergy shots) with an allergist can have their injections administered in the UHS Allergy, Immunization, and Travel Clinic. See helpful links above.

Call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at (512) 475-6877 (NURS) if you experience any of the following:

  • You have asthma, and allergies are causing even moderate asthma symptoms that don't respond to your current treatment.
  • You've never been diagnosed with asthma, but your chest feels "tight" and you wheeze when you breathe (especially when exhaling) or have difficulty breathing.

Call 911 or go directly to an emergency room if you experience severe breathing problems.

Related Topics

Common Cold
Pink Eye
Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac

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