Dealing with Seasonal Allergies while Having RA

Our allergy season in Florida started early—maybe a month ago. And it’s been the worst I’ve experienced so far. Coughing, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, all with mountains of yellow pollen piling up on my car.

Spring has certainly sprung but, until this season, seasonal allergies never bothered me too much. In line with that, this is also the first allergy season where I’ve both had RA and been on Humira. While I know this could all be correlation, it’s got me thinking: is there a possible connection between having RA and a worsening—or in my case, a beginning—of seasonal allergy symptoms?

A seasonal allergy baseline

In my personal experience, I had never really suffered too much from seasonal allergies, although most of my family members have experienced and are currently experiencing the brunt of allergies. Perhaps there is something genetic, perhaps not; however, what I do know is that something has changed now.

Starting a regular allergy medicine

I referenced in a previous article that I had a random fever that turned into an unnamed “viral infection” in March. In my doctor’s notes, they recommended starting a regular antihistamine/allergy medicine (such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, etc.), saying that a reaction to seasonal allergies could have triggered this immune response—and what ultimately caused me to feel sick. I checked with my rheumatologist prior to beginning the Claritin and to discuss this recent incident and started taking the medicine.

Medicine, RA, and allergies

After taking Claritin for two weeks every day, I’ve noticed that my allergy symptoms have significantly reduced, and I can finally walk and exercise outside again. One thing I had to take into consideration before taking Claritin was if there were any interactions between all the medicines I’m taking—thankfully, there weren’t any.

But given that I’m feeling better and that my doctor suggested taking an antihistamine regularly, it seems possible that there is a connection between seasonal allergies, having RA, and being on immunosuppressants.

Can Humira make allergy symptoms worse?

Doing some research online has proven inconclusive thus far about the connection between Humira, RA, and seasonal allergy symptoms. The few scientific and medical articles that do mention a possible connection just say that it is possible and don’t go any further than that.

What are other people's experiences?

Outside of medical and scientific articles, there have been a few blogs and community sites talking about the connection between seasonal allergies and RA, but most of it has centered around the particular drug one is taking. Here’s one forum from the Spondylitis Association. Here’s another from Healing Well.

Not medical advice

Please keep in mind that these are forums of people talking about their personal experiences with conditions that may or may not include RA. This is not medical advice or endorsement; rather, I’m just providing the personal experiences and people’s stories that I found in thinking about this topic.

Research about allergies and RA is limited

Ultimately, it seems like there needs to be more research conducted about the possible connection between seasonal allergies, RA, and immunosuppressants. If you’re struggling with seasonal allergies, talk with your general practitioner and rheumatologist to get their perspective and advice on this issue. But, in closing this article, I want to ask our community members: what’s been your experience with having seasonal allergies and RA?

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