Annual Allergy Awareness Guide
Your Complete Guide to Annual Allergy Awareness
If you suffer from allergies even part of the year, you may wonder when you’ll get a reprieve. People with spring allergies, fall allergies, or winter allergies might feel relief during their off seasons, but for those who experience allergy symptoms year-round — it’s a constant battle with allergens in the air. Here’s a look at which allergies plague people most — and when.
During the winter, there’s less pollen (if any) floating around, but turning up the heat indoors can set your house dust airborne. If you’re allergic to dust, winter allergies can be just as bad as in the spring and fall. To reduce dust exposure, it helps to keep your home’s humidity below 55 percent, use a vacuum with a HEPA filters regularly, and encase pillows and mattresses with dust-mite-proof covers.
Mold and dust can cause allergy issues all year but even if dust and mold don’t bring on the sniffles for you, trees can cause your allergies to flare at this time of year, depending on where you live. In the United States, trees that commonly cause allergies include catalpa, elm, hickory, olive, pecan, sycamore, and walnut. Tree pollen can cause the same symptoms as most spring allergies — watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
Tree pollen remains high on the list of allergens for March, which marks the beginning of spring. March can be rough going for people with spring allergies. Though nice spring weather beckons you outside, if you have spring allergies, stay on top of the pollen count. The higher the count, the worse your allergies will be. A good place to check pollen counts is at the National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
As beautiful as April’s flowers are, their pollen means discomfort for people with spring allergies. In some areas of the country, grass pollen emerges in April, too. Between the pollen from the flowers and the pollen from the grass, spring allergies may make you feel especially miserable. This time of year is difficult for a large population.
Allergic to tree pollen? Although tree pollination can begin as early as February, it can last through May. That means you could be subjected to four long months of spring allergies. Grass pollen can also emerge this time of year in some parts of the country.
June is a key grass pollen month in many areas, and it’s likely that grass pollen will start to trigger your spring allergies by this time of year if it hasn’t already. As the days get longer and the temperature gets higher, you’ll probably want to spend more time outdoors. If you suffer from spring allergies, you may have good days and bad days — the temperature, the rainfall amount, and even the time of day will affect grass pollen levels, and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
The good news is that by July, grass pollen should subside and you might feel like your spring allergies are finally becoming manageable again. The bad news is that July marks the start of fungus spores and seeds, so if you’re allergic to molds and spores, too, you may feel like your allergies never end. Mold can grow on fallen leaves, compost piles, grasses, and grains.
August is a prime month for people with summer allergies to mold spores, which peak during hot, humid weather. You might want to stay inside on days when the mold spore count is particularly high. The best way to keep away from these allergens is to run the air conditioning with a HEPA filter — this cool comfort indoors should help you feel better during the dog days of August.
Late summer/early fall ragweed is the most common cause of fall allergies. Depending on where you live, ragweed-fueled fall allergies can start in August or September and continue through October and possibly November. Pollen grains are lightweight and spread easily, especially on windy days. The more wet and windy autumn is in your area, the more easily the pollen spreads, and the worse your symptoms will feel.
Chances that fall allergies will ease by October get better the farther north you go in the United States. But in warmer climates, fall allergies can linger well into this month. Seasonal rain and wind can also ramp up mold spores — if your fall allergies include mold or fungi spores, your symptoms may linger.
The ragweed pollen season usually ends by mid-November in most areas of the country. If you have fall allergies and react to fungi and molds, you probably face your worst symptoms in late summer and early fall. Although you might feel miserable from the end of March until November, making it seem like you have year-round allergies, you should get a break now. November may be one of the best months for people with outdoor allergies, which allows for enjoying the crisp weather. Then, just in time, indoor allergies to pet dander and indoor molds pick up.
As pretty as they are, real Christmas trees can make you wheeze and sneeze. It’s likely not the tree itself that triggers allergies but the microscopic mold spores that can harbor in its branches. If you can’t resist buying a live tree despite winter allergies, take it home a week before you plan to decorate it and leave it in a garage or an enclosed porch. Then give it a good shake to try to get rid of any spores.