Combating seasonal allergies

Eyes red and teary? Ears itchy in a place you can't reach? Afraid to go outside? You may be under siege of seasonal allergies.

Also known as allergic rhinitis, allergies can be seasonal, or they can stick with you all year round. Allergies (also called hay fever) occur when your immune system overreacts to allergens — for example, pollen, dust, mold and pet dander. Your body attacks these allergens, which is what causes your symptoms. You may have had allergies for years, or perhaps you've just developed them. Either way, you know — or are quickly learning — that they're no fun. Before you take out stock in Kleenex and Visine, take heart: while there is no cure for allergies, there are a variety of treatments that can knock out your symptoms and provide sustained relief.

If you have any of the symptoms below, you likely have allergies:

You sneeze a lot. Your eyes are red, itchy and watery. You have a post-nasal drip and runny nose, with clear — not yellowish — discharge. Your ears, throat and nose itch. Don't suffer through the misery, especially in the warmer months, when you want to be outside — but when the pollen counts are sky high. Make an appointment with your health care provider and describe your symptoms. Your doctor will recommend treatment, but be patient: not everyone has the same success with each over-the-counter oral medication or nasal spray. You may have to try several to find the one that works for you. If your allergies are severe, your doctor may recommend allergy shots.

Find relief from seasonal allergies.