When Exactly Is Allergy Season?
Not sure when those pesky seasonal allergies are going to hit? An allergist explains the specifics behind allergy season so that you feel prepared, no matter which seasonal allergies you experience.
Who doesn’t love the sight of light green buds forming on trees, and healthy grass filling in those patches in the park that were tromped down and swampy all winter? Springtime is always welcome when it arrives…but for a growing segment of Americans, allergies are an increasing side effect.
Seasonal allergies can occur based on the types of plants that are blooming and fertilizing in a given area during a particular time of year. A person experiencing allergies may find themselves with a sniffling nose and watery, itchy eyes. But when, specially, is allergy season—and how should you prepare for those seasonal allergies hit?
The Healthy @Reader’s Digest asked Dr. Andrea Burke, MD, a New York City-based board-certified allergist and immunologist about when seasonal allergy season will strike, and how it may affect you.
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What months are seasonal allergies worse?
Naturally, the most common timeframe for seasonal allergies is during the “pollen” months, meaning certain plants are pollinating to allow for fertilization.
While there isn’t an exact month to pinpoint when seasonal allergies are the worst (especially since many experts say climate change is making allergy season span longer than ever) the most common months people will experience these types of allergies are between March and September.
This, of course, is all dependent on which pollens you’re allergic to. According to Burke: “When in the year a person experiences sudden worsening of their allergies [will] depend on which pollen they are allergic to.”
So how exactly do you know the season when your allergies will hit? First, understand which type of pollen causes a reaction. This requires an allergy test.
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What are the most common types of seasonal allergies?
Pollen season looks different in particular parts of the country, depending on the plants that are native to your region.
In the northern United States, for example, the three most common pollens are tree, grass, and weed pollen. According to Burke, people allergic to tree pollen will experience symptoms from March through April. People allergic to grass pollen experience symptoms from late May through July. And people allergic to ragweed pollen experience symptoms in August and September.
“In other regions, the pollen seasons can be a little earlier, later, longer, or shorter, depending on when trees, grasses, and weeds commonly release pollen,” says Burke.
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The time of day can also make a difference. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, people with tree or grass pollen allergies will likely experience the highest levels (that is, the strongest reactions) in the evenings, while ragweed pollen tends to be highest in the morning.
Allergy maps such as at Pollen.com can be great resources for viewing how severe allergens are in your region of the country. So if you find yourself with uncomfortable allergy symptoms during particular pollen seasons, having this map on hand could be key for understanding days it may be best to stay indoors or to take over-the-counter allergy medication. And, of course, you can always speak to an allergist about a proper treatment plan to handle those pesky symptoms.
On the other hand, if you deal with allergy symptoms throughout the year—no matter the season—you might be dealing with a different type of allergen that isn’t confined to a particular season. “Other allergens such as dust mite and animal dander are perennial allergens, so they don’t have a specific ‘season,'” says Burke. “People who have these allergies will likely have symptoms year-round.”
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