Although many people talk about allergy season as if it’s a distinct time period, seasonal allergies happen to different people at different times.
The exact time that symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and postnasal drip set in—and how long they last—depends on your specific allergies, where you live, and more.
Luckily, once you know your triggers, you can plan for allergy season and be prepared with ways to minimize your exposure and remedy symptoms.
In this article, first I’ll explain when allergy season occurs and why the start of seasonal allergies may vary.
Then I’ll discuss the different symptoms of seasonal allergies, ways to cope with them, and when to see a doctor for help.
When Is Allergy Season?
Allergy season varies based on where you live and your specific allergy triggers.
In most places, spring, summer, and fall are potentially high allergy seasons for different types of pollens or mold.
However, many people are allergic to more than one thing. For these individuals, it can feel like allergy season lasts all three seasons.
Why the Start of Seasonal Allergies May Vary
The start of seasonal allergies depends on when trees start to produce pollen (warmer temperatures of an “early” spring mean an earlier allergy season), what plants or trees are common where you live, and the daily weather conditions.
Types of pollens
Different types of pollen are dominant at different times of the year.
Someone can be allergic to one or many types of pollen.
Additionally, mold in the air is often a sensitivity and goes hand in hand with pollen allergies.
Typical seasons for each type of pollen and mold are:
- Spring: Tree pollen
- Late spring into summer: Grass pollen, mold spores
- Late summer into fall: Ragweed pollen, mold spores
Allergy season differs from place to place because every geographic area has its own climate, weather, and plants.
Even though most locations have trees, grass, and weeds, the exact types of each vary, and each variety produces unique pollen.
For example, ragweed, a common autumnal allergy trigger, is nearly everywhere except Alaska.
So people who live there and are allergic to ragweed are able to skip that part of seasonal allergies.
Some locations experience worse allergy seasons than others due, in part, to the impact of weather fluctuations on growth cycles, air quality, and dryness or dampness.
For example, dry weather increases pollen counts, while wet weather can wash away pollen but increase mold in the air.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies (also called hay fever) can cause one or many symptoms that come and go depending on your triggers.
Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
How to Cope with Seasonal Allergies
If you have seasonal allergies, there are many ways to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Reduce exposure to allergy triggers
Knowing what you are allergic to can help you proactively reduce exposure.
Consider the following:
- Keep windows closed, especially on windy days. If you are allergic to pollen, keep windows closed on dry days. If you are allergic to mold, keep them closed on damp days.
- Do not dry laundry on outside clothing lines.
- Stay indoors when pollen or mold counts are high.
- Change your clothes as soon as you come in from the outdoors.
- Change your bedding frequently.
- If you have to cut the grass or work outside, wear a pollen mask.
Take extra steps when pollen counts are high
If you are extremely sensitive and pollen counts are high, stay home whenever possible or plan activities for later in the day.
Pollen levels are highest in the morning.
Rinse your sinuses
When allergens are breathed in, some small particles may stay trapped in your nasal passages.
This can increase irritation and symptoms.
Rinsing your sinuses 1-2 times a day with a neti pot or saline rinse may help clear particles of pollen, dust, or mold spores.
OTC treatments for allergies include antihistamines, decongestants, and steroids.
During an allergic reaction, the immune system triggers the release of a natural chemical called histamine.
This chemical causes allergy symptoms. Antihistamines block the effects of histamine.
These medications include:
- Fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
- Loratadine (Claritin)
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
Decongestants can help with allergies by making breathing easier.
Decongestants come as nasal sprays or pills, and can be combined with antihistamines.
- Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
- Fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra D)
- Cetirizine-pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec D)
Lastly, corticosteroid nasal sprays help facilitate breathing by reducing nasal inflammation.
- Triamcinolone (Nasacort)
- Fluticasone (Flonase)
Do not mix multiple types of allergy medications, and always check with your doctor before taking something new.
Antihistamines and decongestants may interact with other medications or health conditions.
Medications for seasonal allergies
If OTC medication doesn’t work, your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medication. This can include:
- Antihistamine nasal sprays
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays
If allergy treatments do not work for you, or you have severe symptoms, a doctor or medical provider may recommend allergy shots.
These help to reduce your immune response to the allergen.
Allergy shots may be effective for:
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
When to See a Medical Provider
See a healthcare provider if OTC remedies don’t provide relief from seasonal allergies or if you think you may have an infection instead of allergies.
Allergies do not cause symptoms such as fever, joint or muscle pain, or diarrhea.
How K Health Can Help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Allergic Rhinitis. (2022).
Seasonal Allergies: Which Medication Is Right for You? (2019).
Seasonal Allergies at a Glance. (2019).