Spring is here! With warmer days ahead, trees and flowers will begin to bud, which also means that the dreaded allergy season is right around the corner. Soon enough there will be runny noses, scratchy throats, watery eyes and, for some of you, joint pain. You read that right, seasonal allergies and joint pain! While not often associated with one another, the two actually are related and taking the time to understand the connection can help you prevent them.
What Are Allergies?
In the United States, allergies are typically heightened from March to early summer. Some common substances that cause allergies are pollen, dust, nuts, mold and bee venom. These substances are referred to as allergens, and to combat these your immune system produces antibodies that will help protect you from infections. Antibodies travel to your cells and cause them to release chemicals called histamines that help get rid of those allergens. Histamines cause inflammation so when you come in contact with allergens, you experience inflammation of your sinuses, skin, joints, and respiratory airways. This is why the most common allergy symptoms include the following:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny Nose
- Itchy throat
- Itchy skin
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Joint, back and neck pain
Do Seasonal Allergies Really Cause Back, Neck and Joint Pain?
Absolutely! There are plenty of ways that seasonal allergies can cause back, neck and joint pain. The truth is that joint pain is unavoidable when allergies cause inflammation. During this time of the year, some people suffer from inflammation because your body is working hard to flush out the foreign allergens. As a result, this inflammation causes pain in your joints.
Fatigue can also explain why you feel joint pain during allergy season. Your body is working very hard to fight those allergens, as a result becomes exhausted, and this may cause your joint pain to feel worse.
Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing may also cause you to suffer from muscle, joint and neck pain.
Tips to Help Manage Your Seasonal Allergies to Avoid Joint Pain
- Monitor Pollen Counts. Try to stay indoors when pollen levels are highest (between 10AM and 4PM). You can check the daily pollen counts and forecasts online. The weather channel has a free personalized allergy tracker.
- Shower after being outdoors. This helps reduce the allergens that you bring into your home. Additionally, wash your hair before bed, to avoid getting allergens on your pillows and sheets.
- Don’t forget about your pets! Your pets can bring in pollen and mold on their fur, so bathing and grooming them can keep those allergen levels down. If your pets enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors, keep them out of your bedroom so you can keep allergens out of your bedding.
- Keep the windows in your home closed in order to keep allergens from drifting in from outside. Try running the air conditioner instead.
- Track your allergens. Keeping track of all of your activities and the time of day that your symptoms occur. This can help your doctor identify systems in order to help you manage your symptoms.
- Take allergy medicines. Antihistamines block your body’s response to allergies and typically work within an hour. Nasal spray is an option for more severe allergy symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend allergy shots if other medicines can’t relieve your symptoms.
- Stay ahead of the game! If you know you typically get allergies in the springtime, start taking your allergy medicine early on, before the season begins. This ensures that the medicine will be in your system by the time you need it.
If your joint pain persists outside of allergy season, it might be time to see an orthopedic surgeon. You can use our Find A Doctor tool to search for one in your area.