How Long Do Seasonal Allergies Last?

By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 22, 2022

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.

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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

Location

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.

Daily weather

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.

Over-the-counter treatments

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.

They include:

  • Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
  • Fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra D)
  • Cetirizine-pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec D)

Lastly, corticosteroid nasal sprays help facilitate breathing by reducing nasal inflammation.

These include: 

  • 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:

  • Antihistamines 
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays
  • Decongestants
  • Steroids

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:

  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Cockroaches
Concerned about seasonal allergies? Chat with a medical provider using K Health.
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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

What months are allergy season?
Depending on the allergen and where you live, allergy season can run from early spring to the first frost in late fall. High allergy activity months typically last from about late March to October or early November.
How do you get rid of seasonal allergies fast?
It’s not always possible to get rid of allergy symptoms quickly. However, many types of OTC medications effectively help people cope with seasonal allergy symptoms. These can include antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays.
Do seasonal allergies go away on their own?
Yes, once the season is over for the allergen that someone is sensitive to, symptoms resolve on their own. That’s because seasonal allergies are the immune system’s over-response to a trigger, like pollen, that it has become sensitized to. Once the trigger is no longer there, the immune system will stop reacting to it.
How do I know if I have Covid allergies?
Seasonal allergies and COVID-19 are caused by different things. While some symptoms of COVID may be similar to seasonal allergy symptoms, COVID is a viral infection that typically includes more symptoms. A doctor can test for COVID to rule it out, or you can use at-home COVID testing. It is also possible for the flu or a cold to cause allergy-like symptoms. If fever, diarrhea, or body aches are present, it is likely an infection, because seasonal allergies do not cause these symptoms.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Jennifer Nadel, MD

Dr. Jennifer Nadel is a board certified emergency medicine physician and received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine. She has worked in varied practice environments, including academic urban level-one trauma centers, community hospital emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, telemedicine, EMS medical control, and flight medicine.