Differences Between Seasonal Allergies and Food Allergies

Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Side Effects and Differences Between Seasonal Allergies and Food Allergies

Seasonal Allergies vs. Food Allergies Overview

Seasonal allergies and food allergies can cause similar-looking symptoms. Several symptoms mimic similar reactions. It is essential to know the differences between seasonal allergies and food allergies to keep an eye out for any signs of allergies. The immune system is responsible for fighting back any diseases and infections. It identifies foreign, harmful bodies and then eliminates them with the help of antibodies.

However, allergies happen when your body becomes hypersensitive to everyday substances — it could be a seasonal factor such as mold or pollen, or it could some type of food. These substances are then called allergens. Our immune system detects allergens as hostile. To battle the allergens away, the immune system releases chemicals such as histamines, which then cause allergic reactions like rashes or excessive sneezing.

In some cases, these allergies may also overlap each other, to make matters worse. Due to which it is ideal for identifying which substances are a person allergic to, to keep allergies in control.

Read ahead to learn the differences between seasonal allergies and food allergies.

Seasonal Allergies and Food Allergies

Clear Differences

Seasonal and food allergies appear similar when it comes to signs and symptoms. However, some very minor differences can help you determine whether or not it is a food allergy or a seasonal allergy. And those factors are:

  • Where you live is vital to find a seasonal allergy. Usually, seasonal allergies happen in specific areas where there is more pollen in the air. If your site is safe from pollen allergies, it is possible that you can rule out that possibility.
  • Seasonal changes cause seasonal allergies, and it is usually when the season is newly shifting, where you start to notice some symptoms. If you have had the same diet through both the previous and season and now, it is likely that with the new coming season you might have a seasonal allergy.
  • Change in diet is one of the main reasons in a food allergy. You may be able to detect a food allergy if you eat something that commonly causes food allergies. Or you might also face an allergic reaction if you are trying out new cuisines, and it might include some ingredients that your body is not used to, leading to an allergic reaction.
  • Deep cleaning your home can cause a seasonal allergy, so it would be more notable for detecting a seasonal allergy.

Read ahead to know about both seasonal and food allergies to have a deeper understanding of them.

Seasonal Allergy

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 8 percent of the population face seasonal allergy. Seasonal allergy is also commonly known as hay fever, and it happens in different seasons. One of the most common allergens in a seasonal allergy is pollen, but it is not limited to that.

Seasonal allergies commonly happen during the winter. However, it is likely to face allergic reactions to pollens from various plants. People may face seasonal allergies in more than just one season. On the other hand, one could also be allergic to indoor substances, that only occur in seasonally, such as pet dander and mold.  

Common Allergens

  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Fungi
  • Grass
  • Pollen
  • Mites
  • Weeds
  • Pet dander

Common Symptoms

  • Sneezes
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Itchy, irritable, redness in eyes
  • Postnasal drainage
  • Ear congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

How to Prevent Seasonal Allergies

There are many ways in which you can eliminate common allergens from your home. It is ideal for keeping your home clean, which includes regularly washing your beddings, carpets, and curtains. Avoid keeping things that may collect dust or allergens, such as stuffed toys and carpets. Call the plumber to fix any water leakages to avoid mold and pest growth. To reduce excess moisture, use a dehumidifier. Damp places such as humidifiers, air conditioners, and refrigerators create mold, so keep them clean to avoid mold build-up.

Food Allergies

15 million Americans have food allergies, as estimated by the Food Allergy Research and Education organization. An allergic reaction occurs when your body reacts to a food or drink abnormally; it is known as a food allergy. There are many causes to a food allergy, but the following are the most common ones.

Common Allergens

  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Cow’s milk
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts

Common Symptoms

  • Sneezes
  • Runny nose
  • Watery, irritable eyes
  • Rash
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Lips, tongue, or throat swelling

How to Prevent Food Allergies

Avoidance is ideal. When purchasing food at the supermarket, make sure to read the ingredients list to see whether it includes substances you’re allergic to completely. In some cases, doctors would prescribe steroids. However, they have harmful side effects and should only be used as specified.

Diagnosis for Seasonal and Food Allergies

As the signs and symptoms of food and seasonal allergies are quite similar, the proper treatment and diagnosis would only be done by a trial and error trips to the doctor. A doctor would be able to test you and help you eliminate all possible allergens.

The doctor would be able to give you preventative measures that you need to take to prevent both food and seasonal allergies and help you combat with both if they appear together. There is no proper cure for treating allergies, aside from antihistamine medications — which also only work in some cases. The best way to fight allergic reactions is to prevent them in the first place.


It is possible that people tend to ignore any signs of allergic reactions, as they seem harmless, such as itching or diarrhea, and could be misdiagnosed as another, basic health problem. However, it is ideal to visit the doctor to help individuals rule out any possibilities of being allergic to whichever substances and to guide you to take prevention measures to avoid problems in the future. Getting yourself treated is also ideal for helping you prevent over-lapping allergic reactions, which become harder to treat.

Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (December 21, 2020)

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Ahmed Abdelmajeed
Alexandria University Hospital

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Looking for more allergy types? Find a full list of other allergy causes here.

Last Updated on July 5, 2023

Seasonal Allergies