Easy Ways To Beat Seasonal Allergies When The Pollen Count Spikes
If your seasonal allergies are making you miserable this spring, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year. The good news is there are measures you can take to minimize the impact of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies are usually caused by three main types of pollen: trees, grass, and weeds. They’re called “seasonal allergies” because each type of pollen has a season where they’re most potent. Here’s a general timeline of common pollen seasons:
- Some outdoor molds also peak in the fall months
When you’re monitoring pollen counts for your specific allergy, here are 10 ways to cope:
Pollen counts tend to rise on dry, warm, and windy days, so if it’s breezy outside, try to stay indoors.
Pollen counts are highest in the morning and again at night, so if you need to go outside, try to do it when counts are low.
When it comes to seasonal allergies, it’s important to know exactly what you’re allergic to so you can take appropriate action.
“I have patients who come in saying they’re allergic to pets, then we perform a skin test and it turns out they’re actually allergic to oak trees or another pollen the pet is bringing inside on their fur,” says Erin Willits, MD, an allergist and immunologist at Intermountain Alta View Hospital.
Diagnosing Seasonal And Indoor Allergies
Hay fever and indoor allergies are diagnosed based on your symptoms, your physical examination, and allergy testing.
Allergy testing may be done via skin prick testing, intradermal testing or laboratory testing. Skin prick and intradermal testing are performed in the office for the most common indoor and outdoor allergens.
You must be off all antihistamines and H2 Blockers for at least 3 days prior to any skin testing.
If we are unable to perform skin prick testing, then laboratory testing will be ordered.
What Is A Ragweed Pollen Allergy
The job of your immune system is to find foreign substances, like viruses and bacteria, and get rid of them. This response normally protects us from harmful diseases. People with allergies have immune systems that react when they come in contact with allergens. When you are allergic to ragweed pollen and inhale it from the air, rhinitis symptoms show up.
Seventeen types of ragweed grow in North America. Ragweed also belongs to a larger family of plants that can spread pollen by wind. These plants can also cause symptoms.
Members of this plant family include:
- Mucus in the throat
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Early Blast Of Pollen In Nj
Even though spring doesnt get underway until this weekend officially arriving Sunday morning some early blasts of pollen have already hit southern New Jersey, according to Dr. Donald J. Dvorin, an allergy specialist based in Mount Laurel.
Weve actually seen a tremendous rise this week, Dvorin told NJ Advance Media on Thursday.
Dvorin, who pays close attention to daily pollen counts, said its not common to see high levels of pollen this early in the year, but he believes the numbers rose because our region has had several warm and windy days of late. In addition, lots of junipers and cedar trees have started blooming early.
However, this early spike of pollen numbers doesnt necessarily mean we will have a bad allergy season this spring and summer, Dvorin noted.
He says New Jerseyans should not take much stock in long-range pollen forecasts, because the actual pollen counts are tied to actual weather conditions.
Its really based on local weather, he said. If you have a lot of rain, you dont see a lot of pollen. If you have a little rain, lets say its a light rain the morning, some pollen will be delayed several hours.
If its dry and windy, you see the most pollen, Dvorin added. Thats when the eye symptoms get bad.
AccuWeather’s 2022 allergy forecast says pollen from ragweed and other types of weeds will be exploding in New Jersey and the rest of the eastern United States this year.AccuWeather
When To Seek Medical Help
If you’re unresponsive to over-the-counter allergy medication or if your allergies cause you to cough or wheeze, you could suffer from more than allergies – which means it’s time to see a doctor. Allergies can turn into asthma or an upper-respiratory illness such as bronchitis or a sinus infection, so it’s important to see an allergist who can assess your symptoms and develop a tailored treatment plan, which includes testing you for food allergies, asthma, and other conditions.
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What Are The Worst Months For Allergies In Nj Your Guide To Finding Relief
The flowering trees are gorgeous but the tree pollen counts combined with windy days makes for some seriously miserable allergy symptoms. Pass the tissue, please! Here in New Jersey, weve already started into the allergy season month and many residents have been feeling the effects for weeksand its more than just a sneeze and itchy eyes. In fact, 55 percent of employees report calling in sick to work because of their allergies.
Find An Eye Doctor In New Jersey
If you are experiencing fall eye allergies, dont hesitate to visit us at Marano Eye Care. Here at our practice, our goal is to ensure that you receive the personalized care you need to improve your quality of vision. Our experienced doctors can perform different tests and a complete eye exam to determine which fall allergens are affecting you. Contact one of our two Marano Eye Care New Jersey offices, located in Livingston and Newark, to request an appointment with us today.
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If Unsure Take The Test
COVID-19 tests that can be taken at home without the risk of infecting others are readily available. While it may be advisable in novel circumstances to contact a physician, Mitchell said to use personal judgment.
“Your doctor will probably advise you to test anyway, because the tests are so widely available now,” Mitchell said. “We had been reserving them for critically ill patients when they were new and scarce. Back then, it was more of an issue.”
Mitchell’s Paramus clinic and others throughout the region provide walk-up care, including rapid and more accurate polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 testing. The former takes less than 20 minutes and is free for many with insurance.
Since mid-January, the U.S. government has also offered every home in the country free delivery of two sets of four at-home tests. Those who ordered the first batches may have tests that expire late this spring and may need to renew later this allergy season.
Monteleone recommended signing up and taking an at-home test for peace of mind, if “you’re going to go be near Grandma, and your allergies are acting up.”
“If your suspicion is low and the home test is negative, that can probably be the end of it,” she said.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Climate Change And The Pandemic Are Playing A Huge Role
Year over year, were finding climate change is a major factor in worsening symptoms for spring and fall pollen seasons, said Kenneth Mendez, the CEO and president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
The rising temps and increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are making pollen seasons heavier and longer. Allergy season is now 10 days longer than it was in 1990, and trees, grass and weeds are producing 21% more pollen. More pollen means more runny noses, watery eyes and itchy throats.
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in pollen counts on a yearly basis, and this is due to global warming and an increase in CO2, which we know plays a role in higher pollen counts, said Payel Gupta, an allergist and immunologist and medical director of the at-home allergy clinic Cleared.
The recent warm weather were seeing this year and in the past few years is to blame. Plants bloom in warm weather, then tree, grass and weed pollen pick up and fly into the air around us.
In the past, warm weather didnt appear until April or so, delaying pollen-producing plants from blooming. But its been getting warmer earlier year after year. Some areas in the Northeast saw 70-degree days as early as January this year. On top of that, the first freeze we typically see each fall is happening later in the year. Mendez said this keeps flowering pants like ragweed a major source of allergies alive and well.
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Preparing For Allergy Season In New Jersey
Pet dander and dust mites are the usual suspects circulating in your homes air. While they can be smelly, irritating, or downright unpleasant, they dont hold a candle to the greatest of all enemies: allergy season in New Jersey.
Now that the weather is warming up and mother nature is stretching out her arms, we need to be prepared for seasonal allergy symptoms. Pollen is going to start falling from the sky like its raining, so get your immune system prepared before allergy season in New Jersey starts.
Staying Ahead Of The Allergies
So keeping your air systems clean is the preventative step you can take to help yourself and your family out during allergy season, but what can you do to be proactive? Well, thankfully, there are a few measures we can take to keep your chest clear and your eyes open no matter what type of allergies you and your family have.
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Bad News For Nj Seasonal Allergy Sufferers: Accuweather
NEW JERSEY, You may find yourself saying “bless you!” more often as you walk around town, according to AccuWeather’s 2022 spring allergy forecast, giving residents of the Garden State a heads-up on what to expect as trees start budding and grass starts growing.
While spring, which officially begins Sunday, is a welcome time of rebirth, especially after a harsh winter, the budding trees, blooming flowers, and fresh green grass all but promise misery, sneezing and suffering for people with seasonal allergies.
According to a pollen-tracking website, much of New Jersey is already experiencing medium-level 7.2 out of 10 pollen reports, with elm and maple being the primary allergy suspects.
Tree, grass and weed pollen will likely be about normal in many parts of the country, but there are exceptions. According to AccuWeather:
Moderate temperatures and multiple rounds of rain in the Southeast are likely to make tree pollen worse than anywhere in the country, especially in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Allergy sufferers in the Pacific Northwest can expect a rough season. Moderate temperatures and rainfall in April will create ideal conditions for tree growth, but also pollen, the private weather service said.
In the Northeast, an expected steady rainfall in April and early May stunting pollen growth should lead to an average tree pollen season from the Appalachian Mountains to Maine.
Check Your Daily Allergy Forecast
How To Stay Ahead Of Allergy Season
First: If you’ve felt symptoms before but haven’t been officially diagnosed with allergies, it may help to pay attention to those specific patterns. So if you’ve felt lousy for the last few years around March and have experienced the same symptomswhether this is a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, or itchy or watery eyesit’s probably a good call to make an appointment with an allergist before the next allergy season starts.
“If you always think you have a cold in March but remember having three of the same symptoms last year, you may have allergies,” Janna Tuck, MD, an ACAAI spokesperson and allergist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, tells Health.
For regular allergy sufferers, the goal is to prevent allergic reactions before they happen. A few ways you can be prepared for the season is by keeping an eye on pollen counts and, if you’re traveling, to keep an eye on potential pollen counts in your destination town or city.
And, while seasonal allergieswhether they come in the form of a stuffed nose, itchy eyes, or constant sneezingaren’t life-threatening, you can have severe symptoms if you also have asthma.
“Allergy symptoms can be quite severe for asthma sufferers,” says Dr. Tuck. “If you have asthma and have difficulty breathing or are coughing a lot, that’s another important reason to see a specialist, get tested, and get on a good treatment plan that might include regular allergy shotsthe one thing that prevents asthma attacks stemming from your allergies.”
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Understand The Difference: Spring Allergies Or Common Cold
Understanding the differences between a common cold and environmental allergies will help you choose the best treatment. Unlike allergies, the common cold is caused by a virus, while allergy symptoms are a result of immune system responses to allergens like pollen, dust, or even pet dander. With more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies and more than 1 billion colds every year, how do you tell the difference between the two? It can be tough to spot. But the best way to make a distinction between the two is the duration of the symptoms. A cold will typically last no more than 10 days, while allergies can affect people for months on end. If you experience persistent mild, cold-like symptoms that are unaccompanied by a fever, it might be allergies. And colds may cause aches and pains, symptoms usually not associated with allergies. Many patients dealing with allergies also suffer from asthma, as these two conditions commonly occur together. But thankfully, you can find a little relief during the allergy season months with a few simple tips.
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When Should I Start Taking Allergy Meds
Theres no point in waiting until youre miserable to take allergy meds, especially if you want to keep up your outdoor workouts. In fact, allergists recommend you start taking meds a couple weeks before allergy season arrives, or, at the latest, take them the moment you begin having symptoms, says Dr. Parikh. Taking them early can stop an immune system freak-out before it happens, lessening the severity of symptoms, he adds. Check out the National Allergy Map to figure out when to start taking meds depending on where you live.
As for which allergy meds to take, if youre seriously stuffed, start with steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase or Rhinocort, which reduce inflammation-induced stuffiness, says Dr. Keet. And if you’ve got itching, sneezing, and a runny nose, too, look for non-sedating antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Xyzal, or Allegra, she adds. Just remember: While OTC allergy meds suppress symptoms, they dont cure the problem, so they may be less effective if your allergies are worsening, notes Dr. Parikh.
Accuweather Special Report: Accuweathers 2022 Us Spring Allergy Forecast
AccuWeather Global Weather Center March 16, 2022 The latter part of winter has been brutally cold across much of the United States, and March has brought typical wild swings in the weather. So, its no wonder that many Americans may be eager to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and consistent warmth. But for the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, this time of year can be especially hard.
A team of AccuWeather forecasters, led by Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert, took a deep dive into forecast data, weather patterns and climate research to forecast what the fast-approaching allergy season will be like and if there will be an extended or higher-than-usual pollen season.
According to Climate Central, a nonprofit science and news organization based in Princeton, New Jersey, recent research suggests that the growing seasons are becoming longer across the continental U.S., thus creating a longer pollen season, which could prolong the symptoms many seasonal allergy sufferers endure.
Various types of allergens can affect Americans at different times of the year and with different levels of severity. According to Reppert, trees are commonly the first and biggest pollen producers in the spring. By late spring and early summer, grass pollen will start to dominate, and, finally, toward the late summer and early fall, weed pollen will take over for the rest of the season.
About AccuWeather, Inc. and AccuWeather.com
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Mold Spores More Problems
Besides pollen, patients may also become sensitized to airborne mold spores.Molds are much more numerous in ambient air than pollens, Dr. Lang notes, and there are molds that are present in high amounts in damp, rainy conditions. More importantly, though, warmer weather can be a particularly bad time for mold.
There are molds that peak on days of maximum heat and humidity. So later in the summer, particularly from mid-July to early-September, is when the mold count gets very high, he says.
This can make a bad combination for many people who are allergic to both one or more pollens and molds. Thats a common pattern, Dr. Lang says, that people will have these symptoms year-round and have a peak of symptoms in the spring and summer.
Many of the patients Dr. Lang sees, he says, are polysensitized, or allergic to multiple allergens. Sometimes well see people with classic symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis that occur seasonally such as mid August through the frost, and we know its likely from ragweed.
But, more frequently, we see people with year-round symptoms and there are peaks in the warmer times of the year. But then we may find on skin testing theyre sensitized to pollens and molds, as well as dust mites and cat or dog dander.