Sore Throat And Allergies – How Hay Fever Causes Sore Throats

The changing seasons are magnificent, but they also come with a multitude of allergens, triggering allergic reactions in people worldwide. One common manifestation is the dreaded sore throat. Do you experience a sore throat and suspect it is due to an allergy? Seasonal allergies or other allergen sources can cause sore throats.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
8 min read · Nov 17, 2023

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In this article, CARE will delve into the biological relationship between allergies and sore throats. From understanding the causes to exploring preventative measures, join us on a journey through the realms of biology to demystify the link between allergies and that irritating scratch in your throat.

Can Allergies Cause A Sore Throat?

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The short answer is a resounding yes. Allergies have a remarkable ability to stimulate your immune system, leading to a cascade of reactions that can manifest as a sore throat.

But how? When you are allergic to something and encounter this allergen, whether it be pollen, pet dander, mold spores, or certain foods, your immune system perceives the harmless allergen as a threat and reacts. If the allergen is airborne, this is referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. [1]

The contact between the allergen and your body triggers your immune system to release histamines and other biochemicals that, in turn, cause inflammation in your throat. [1]

Your mucous membranes become irritated, leading to that familiar scratchiness and discomfort associated with a sore throat. [1]

In essence, allergies can significantly contribute to sore throats, and understanding the specific allergens involved is crucial for effectively managing your allergies and sore throat.

What Allergens Cause A Sore Throat?

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Allergens vary widely and can be present in our natural environment, foods, furry friends, and medications. Identifying the allergen responsible for your sore throat is pivotal in managing and preventing future discomfort.

Pollen – Seasonal Allergies Are One Of The Main Culprits

Most people will experience a sore throat due to their hay fever. Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can trigger allergic reactions, leading to a sore throat. Dust mites are also a common cause of hay fever. Hay fever is prevalent during spring and fall when pollen levels are highest. [2]

Pet Dander – Cuteness Overload and Immune System Overreaction

Pet lovers may find themselves susceptible to sore throats due to allergens found in their furry companions' skin flakes, urine, and saliva.

Mold Spores – Long-Term Exposure Can Be Dangerous

Mold spores thrive in damp environments, and inhaling them can lead to allergic reactions that cause sore throats and even severe long-term health problems. Chronic exposure may result in persistent sore throats. [3]

Food Allergies – Peanuts And Shellfish Can Cause Fatal Reactions

Some people can have extreme allergic reactions to certain foods, such as nuts and shellfish. A sore throat is a common symptom of food allergies, but some allergic reactions can even be life-threatening and must be taken seriously. We have all seen that one movie where someone’s face swells up, or their throat shuts down, and they must be taken to hospital – this is a real-life occurrence. Peanuts are one of the most frequent food allergens that can cause serious reactions. [4]

How Long Does a Sore Throat From Allergies Typically Last?

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The duration of a sore throat caused by allergies can vary depending on factors such as your individual immune response, the specific allergen, and the presence of other mitigating factors. In general, sore throat as an allergy symptom tends to be acute and rather short-lived. The exception for some is hay fever – seasonal allergies can last for months on end, and exposure is usually difficult to avoid. [2]

Generally, while viral or bacterial infections often result in longer-lasting sore throats, allergic reactions typically subside once the allergen isn’t present anymore (like pollen) or the immune response is dampened. It's not uncommon for allergic sore throats to improve within a few hours to a day after avoiding the allergen or taking appropriate medication. [2]

Seasonal allergies exhibit geographic variability, with the specific allergens prevalent in an area influencing the nature and intensity of your allergic reaction, in this case, your sore throat.  For example, individuals in coastal regions may contend with different pollen varieties compared to those in inland areas, emphasizing the need for localized awareness and tailored allergy management strategies. [1] [2]

CARE has prepared a little general summary for you that gives you a rough overview of the different seasonal allergies and when you might want to begin with some preparation to keep your sore throat at bay.

Seasonal Allergies – Allergens Present Throughout the Year

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Allergic reactions and sore throats go hand in hand when it comes to seasonal allergies.  In the Northern Hemisphere, specifically Northern America and Europe, the changing seasons have specific and changing allergens present, which affect the duration of allergy throats. [5]

This is a gross seasonal breakdown of the different allergens present in the different seasons across Northern America and Europe:

Spring (Duration: February to May)

  • Tree pollen dominates, extending the duration of allergic discomfort. In late spring, also, the first grass pollen typically occurs. [5]
  • Common Trees: Oak, birch, cedar, maple, pine, etc.

Summer (Duration: May, June and Hiatus July)

  • Summer is the peak season for grass pollen. Most Grass pollen and mold spores contribute to lingering symptoms during the widely beloved season of the year. In fact, most people are allergic to grass pollen. When July is hot and dry, trees and grass are no longer pollinating, and allergic people get a short break. [5]
  • Common Grasses: Timothy, Bermuda, orchard, sweet vernal, and others.

Fall (Duration: Seasonal Peaking)

  • Ragweed takes the stage, influencing the duration of sore throats. Also, mold spores make a big comeback in fall because mold thrives in fallen leaves and dying plants, granting the mold spores an ideal breeding ground. [5]
  • Common Weeds: Ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, lamb's quarters, and others

Winter (Duration: Persistent)

  • Indoor allergens like dust mites and pet dander impact those indoors. In some regions, like the Midwest (US), mold spores can also occur during winter. [5]

Understanding these seasonal allergens and taking proactive steps—monitoring pollen forecasts, using air purifiers, and timely medication—can reduce the duration of your allergic sore throat in the ever-shifting symphony of the four seasons.

What Other Symptoms Are Caused By Allergies?

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There are many symptoms of allergies due to common allergens. A sore throat is just one facet of the broader spectrum of allergy symptoms. Understanding these symptoms can aid in early identification and effective management of your allergy that is causing you a sore throat.

Runny or Stuffy Nose:

Nasal congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose are hallmark signs of allergies, often accompanying a sore throat. [6]

Watery Eyes & Itchy Eyes:

Allergic reactions can affect the eyes, leading to redness, itching, and excessive tearing. [6]

Coughing:

Persistent coughing, sometimes accompanied by wheezing, can result from irritation in the respiratory tract due to allergies. Coughing also increases your sore throat. [6]

Fatigue:

Allergies can be physically draining, causing fatigue and a general sense of lethargy. [6]

Postnasal Drip:

Postnasal drip occurs when excessive mucus is produced in the nasal passages due to the allergens triggering your immune system to increase mucus production. The mucus drips down the back of your throat, leading to irritation and contributing to a sore throat. [6]

How Can You Prevent a Sore Throat Caused By Allergies?

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Preventing allergic sore throats involves a combination of environmental management and lifestyle adjustments.

Identify and Avoid Allergens:

Determining specific allergens through testing and then taking steps to minimize exposure is fundamental to prevention. If you are allergic to certain foods, strictly avoid them.

Keep Indoor Environments Clean:

Regular cleaning, dusting, and the use of air purifiers can help reduce indoor allergens, such as dust mites and mold. Furthermore, it can be helpful if you keep your windows and doors mainly closed during the pollinating season and take a shower when you come back inside. [7]

Monitor Pollen Levels:

Stay informed about pollen forecasts, and take precautions when levels are high, such as keeping windows closed and using air conditioning.

Maintain Pet Hygiene:

We all love our furry children to death, but they can be a little hairy and slobbery, can’t they? If you have pets, ensure regular grooming and cleaning to minimize the presence of pet dander. [7]

Home Remedies & Natural Remedies:

For those seeking natural relief from a sore throat triggered by allergies, soothing herbal teas with honey and ginger can provide comfort by reducing inflammation. Gargling with salt water is another effective home remedy, as it helps to soothe the irritated throat, offering a simple yet powerful solution for alleviating discomfort. [7]

Humidifier:

A humidifier can soothe a sore throat caused by allergies by adding moisture to the air, preventing the throat's mucous membranes from drying out, and reducing irritation and discomfort. [7]

How Can I Treat/Cure My Allergies?

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While there may not be a definitive cure for allergies, several effective treatments can alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life despite your allergies.

Antihistamines:

Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines can help block the effects of histamines that are produced as a reaction of your immune system, reducing allergy symptoms, including sore throats. Remember that some histamines and allergy medications can have side effects like getting drowsy. [8]

Nasal Sprays or Nasal Steroids:

Nasal steroid sprays can reduce inflammation in your nasal passages, alleviating congestion and other allergy-related symptoms like a sore throat. [9]

Decongestants:

Oral or nasal decongestants may relieve some nasal congestion and improve your airflow.

Immunotherapy/Allergy Shots:

If your allergy symptoms are extreme and decreasing your quality of life, consider exploring an allergy treatment, like taking allergy shots.

Allergy shots or sublingual tablets, also referred to as immunotherapy, work by exposing you to small, gradually increasing amounts of allergens. This desensitizes your immune system over time and reduces allergic reactions, ultimately alleviating symptoms such as a sore throat caused by allergies. [10]

At CARE, we help you optimize your health and well-being by providing personal and in-depth health assessments and comprehensive blood analysis. By looking at the biomarkers in your blood, we can evaluate your inflammatory values that correlate with allergic reactions and assess your overall health status.

CARE helps you take charge of your health and become the most vital and healthiest version of yourself!

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Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!