Allergy Forecast: A Bad Year For Everyone
Like taxes, allergy season is one of those things you just cant avoid. In fact, due to climate change, it may be getting worse. Warmer temperatures lead to more pollen production, so 2021 may be the most intense allergy season yet. And due to COVID-19 quarantine, children may especially have a rough year.
When is allergy season?
It starts in the spring and continues until the fall, but different allergens, the substances that trigger allergies, appear at different times.
: As spring begins, tree pollen is the top allergen, followed by weeds and grasses. In some parts of Maryland, its not unusual to see cars covered by the itchy stuff.
May to July: In May, all the trees, grass and weeds gang up to pump out allergens, making it a bad time for allergy sufferers. This is the start of peak allergy season, which continues until July.
: Enter ragweed, a common flowering plant. Ragweed is the leading cause of seasonal allergies, with 75% of all sufferers allergic to it.
With temperatures falling and plants starting to go dormant, the air starts to clear, bringing an end to outdoor allergy season. Now its possible to breathe a sigh of relief without coughing.
See the Interactive Allergy Forecaster for allergy conditions where you live.
COVID-19 and childrens allergies
Surviving allergy season
If your or your childs allergy symptoms are severe or continue a long time, your health care provider may be able to help or refer you to an allergist.
This Allergy Season May Be The Worst Ever
Its been an especially long winter. Pandemic isolation combined with the seemingly never-ending snow and cold has many of us longing for springtime. But, if you are one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies, you may not be quite as enthusiastic about the change of seasons.
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.
Also Check: Can You Develop Allergies As An Adult
This Springs Allergy Season Will Be The Worst And Longest Ever
Yikes, spring 2013 is set to break pollen records yet again
Worst. Allergy. Season. Ever. Thanks to a confluence of climatic factors, this spring is looking to top even last year in terms of pollen allergies, according to allergist Clifford Basset, MD, a spokesman for the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.
Basset declares this spring is shaping up to be a pollen nightmare due to the early arrival of spring after a mild winter.
In many areas of the country, flowering trees bloomed as much as a month earlier than usual. And long, mild falls and late winters are making allergy seasons last weeks longer than in decades past.
Plum blossoms signal spring and sneezing season
Of course, every single year we see this headline. Last year, 2012 was widely dubbed the worst allergy season ever because of record-breaking pollen levels, and 2011 earned the same distinction.
Other measures are indicating a worse time for people with allergies as well. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal named it the worst allergy year ever based on East Coast allergists reports of doubling and tripling the number of patient visits.
Climate Change to Blame
And the mercury will keep going up. According to the National Clmatic Data Center, all 12 of the years that make up the 21st century rank within the top 14 years ever for temperature. And according to Harvard Health Publications, pollen counts can be expected to double by 204o.
Drugstore Sales Boom
What to Do
Is It Allergies Or Covid
This years allergy season will bring with it added anxiety since the varied symptoms of COVID can often mimic other ailments. Fortunately, while there is some overlap between COVID and allergy symptoms, there are some distinct differences that can help you identify why youre not feeling your best.
COVID is a complicated illness with a whole range of potential symptoms that can last well beyond a positive test result. Some of the most common are cough, fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, headaches, sore throat, loss of taste and smell, and skin rashes.
The symptoms of seasonal allergies generally include nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, and sneezing.
Where things get confusing
While COVID and allergy symptoms seem to be pretty different, they can sometimes overlap. For instance, congestion from allergies may lead to headaches, and a post-nasal drip may cause a sore throat or cough all of which are COVID symptoms.
Dry cough, shortness of breath, and loss of smell are generally signs that youre dealing with something more severe than seasonal allergies and are a clear indication to get tested for COVID-19.
But, if youre a regular seasonal allergy sufferer, theres one unmistakable symptom that allergies are the culprit of your discomfort: Itchiness. Itchy nose and eyes are common with allergies, but rare for viral infections like COVID-19.
Don’t Miss: Can You Develop Allergies As An Adult
Allergy Season Arrives In The Houston Area With A Fury
Everyone loves these mild, flu-free winters, but Houstons already experiencing one of the downsides: an early allergy season.
With pollen counts soaring and allergists reporting earlier-than-usual complaints, local officials are warning Houstonians to brace for a long season of runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing.
Its going to get worse before it gets better, says City Forester Victor Cordova.
It got worse Monday with 1,796 tree pollen grains per cubic meter measured at the citys laboratory near Hermann Park, the years first day of extremely heavy activity. The high count followed mostly heavy levels that have circulated since the start of February, at least a month before the season typically starts in earnest.
The heavy pollen levels have kept allergy doctors busier than usual this winter. Dr. Amber Luong, an immunologist at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, says some of her patients complained of allergy symptoms as far back as late January, an unheard of time for sufferers.
An estimated 20 percent of the population seeks treatment for airborne allergies, which occur when the immune system recognizes harmless substances such as pollen as an enemy, dilating blood vessels and inflaming sinus and respiratory tracts.
The high count is occurring even though the drought robbed Houston of 50 percent of its pine trees, one of the most prolific producers of pollen.
Houston ranks in 40s
Second Reduce Your Exposure To Allergens
Dr. Rubinstein suggests these simple tips to help reduce allergy attacks:
- Cover bed pillows with allergen-proof liners.
- Never wear clothes worn outside to the bed.
- Wash your hands when you come inside to rinse off any pollen.
- Wash bed linens every week, and other bedding such as blankets and entire comforters monthly.
- Keep windows closed from sunrise to mid-morning. Pollen levels peak in the morning. Also, keep windows closed if it has been windy.
- While driving, keep your car windows up and use the recycle air setting to keep pollen out of the car.
Read Also: Does A Gluten Allergy Cause A Rash
When Is Allergy Season
It depends on what you’re allergic to and where you live.
If you have seasonal allergies or hay fever, tree pollens can trigger symptoms in the late winter or spring. Ragweed releases pollen in the summer and fall. The specifics also depend on where you live. Allergy season can start as early as January in Southern states and linger into November.
The key is to see your doctor and find out what’s causing your symptoms. Once you do, you’ll know when yourallergy season starts and how to prepare.
Third Treat Your Allergy Symptoms
The most natural and effective allergy treatment to ease your allergy symptoms is an over-the-counter saline nose rinse, Dr. Rubinstein says.
These rinses flush allergens and other irritants out of the nose before they can trigger symptoms. Be sure to wash the applicator after each use.
A Neti pot or sinus rinse bottle can help you give a thorough rinse to your nose and sinuses.
If you need more help to control symptoms, Dr. Rubinstein recommends over-the-counter medications:
- Over-the-counter allergy medications are safe for short-term use. They usually ease allergy symptoms within an hour or two, although sometimes they take two to three days to work. They are safe for as-needed or regular use for symptom relief, but do not prevent allergies.
- Antihistamine eye drops can soothe itchy eyes right away, and theyre safe to use. You can also use artificial tears throughout the day to help soothe irritated eyes.
- Cortisone nasal sprays are the most effective medicines to help prevent allergies. They can help reduce your allergic reaction. Theyre safe to use regularly, Dr. Rubinstein says, but often take up to a few weeks to have an impact.
Your doctor can help you decide which medications are best for your symptoms, and may refer you to an allergist for specialty care. Dont skip this important step, Dr. Rubinstein says. You should consult with your doctor before using any over-the-counter medication regularly.
You May Like: How To Read Allergy Skin Test Results
What Are The Most Common Allergenic Tree Pollens In The Us
If you live in the United States, the chances are high that you will encounter tree pollen no matter where you reside. Fortunately, many people are only allergic to specific types of tree pollen, and knowing which types of tree pollen you are allergic to can help you reduce your airborne allergen exposure. The most prevalent types of tree pollen producers in the United States are:
These evergreen trees produce high levels of pollen that are often visible on outdoor surfaces. Contrary to what you might think, pine pollen allergies and Christmas tree allergies are two different things.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology , if you have an allergic reaction to your Christmas tree, it is probably triggered by airborne weed pollen that settled on the trees branches during the fall months, rather than by the tree itself.
Oak tree pollen levels are highest in the morning, so those with oak pollen allergies should reserve outdoor activities until the afternoon or evening. A wide range of oak trees can be found throughout the United States, both in residential areas and in forests. These large trees produce high levels of pollen, meaning that people with oak pollen allergies may have to take extra precautions to limit exposure.
Is There An End In Sight For This Brutal Pollen Season
Tree pollen levels should decrease by the second half of May
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Its no secret that the pollen and resulting allergies have been absurdly bad this spring here in Central Alabama. The burning question that everyone has is, When will it get better?!
Unfortunately we are in the thick of the worst time of year for many people who suffer from pollen allergies. Its the tree pollen that is causing your problems, and it has been brutal since the beginning of March due to a variety of factors — early season bloom, weather that has supported pollen, among others.
It doesnt look like it will improve until the second half of May.
Tree pollen is lightweight and can travel very efficiently through the air. Combine with that highly allergenic trees like oak, pecan, elm, juniper, maple, poplar, and sycamore and youre got the recipe for plenty of sneezing and wheezing.
If youre allergic to grass pollen, then the news may not be so great.
Grass pollen can be very problematic as well. Similar to tree pollen, there are plenty of people who suffer from some sort of grass allergy. Grass pollen season ramps up during the last week of April and carries through the summer months.
It can go as late as late September in parts of Alabama, but the worst of grass pollen season is usually from early May through early August.
Ragweed is the biggest offender in this category, and it can lead to substantial problems for allergy sufferers during the late summer and early fall months.
Don’t Miss: Do Lymph Nodes Swell With Allergies
Seasonal Allergies: What You Need To Know
Pollen is an airborne substance that comes from grass, flowering plants, trees, and weeds. In the past 12 months, 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children under 18 were diagnosed with hay fever, the name given to allergic rhinitis caused by pollen. When someone has hay fever, their immune system identifies pollen as a threat and releases signals that lead to congestion, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing, as well as problems like sinus pressure and allergic conjunctivitis .
The amount of pollen in the air depends on the season and the geographic area in which you live. The study reported in PNAS found the most pronounced effects in Texas and the Midwestern United States. However, the Northeast can have a significant spring allergy season as well, Dr. Leeds says. Tree allergies are especially common in New Englandparticularly due to birch and oak. Pollen allergies can also cause a cross-reaction with certain foods in some people symptoms include an itchy or tingling mouth and throat after eating raw fruits and vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
People may also have allergic reactions to grass pollen in the late spring to early summer and weed pollen in the fall. Many people are multi-sensitized, so they are allergic to more than one type of pollen, and they can be symptomatic through all of the warm weather seasons, Dr. Leeds says. Pollen can be carried by the wind, so windy days are the worst.
Is 2021 The Worst Year For Seasonal Allergies
Are your allergies worse than ever this year? Are you experiencing seasonal allergies for the first time? Youre not alone. Many people are reporting worse allergies this year than in previous years and some are even reporting experiencing allergy symptoms for the first time ever.
Experts say, as spring temperatures get warmer, faster pollen production increases. Not only are botanicals producing pollen earlier, but they are also producing more of it for longer periods of time. Research shows that allergy season is now 10 days longer than it was 30 years ago, and trees, grass, and weeds are producing up to 21% more pollen, which leads to increased reactions in those with seasonal allergies. The first freeze is also happening later in the fall, keeping the plants and weeds that cause allergies alive longer.
But the rising temperatures isnt the only thing to blame for allergies that seem worse than normal. COVID-19 or the precautions we took to prevent the spread in 2020 may also be contributing to more widespread allergies. There are several reasons while this could be happening:
- The masks we wore for over a year help filter out some allergens meaning less exposure
- Staying largely inside may have reduced our tolerance to allergens
- People are spending more time outside this Spring
Read Also: Robitussin Cough And Congestion
Are Allergies In Kids Different Than In Adults
It can be especially difficult to control allergies in kids, Dr. Leeds says, adding that kids tend to spend more time outdoors and, thus, are exposed to more pollen. A high pollen count day is not going to deter them from going to the playground, says Dr. Leeds. Thats unlike an adult who might say, ‘Im going to drive my car to work, keep the windows rolled up, and not take that walk during lunch.’
Another difference is that allergies in adults are usually well-established, while in kids there is the hope that they will outgrow them, Dr. Leeds says.
With kids, we talk about the concept of atopy, which is an allergic predisposition, she says. For a child with a strong family history of any allergiesand especially for those who develop symptoms early in lifedoctors look out for the four main allergic diseases: eczema, food allergies, nasal allergies, and asthma. These allergic diseases, in general, are increasing in prevalence, she says.
When Does Allergy Season 2021 Start
Well, its technically *always* allergy season due to year-round offenders such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network. But some allergenspollens, specificallyare seasonal.
Tree pollen, for example, pops up in the spring , grass pollen arrives in the late spring , weed pollen is most prevalent in the summer , and ragweed pollen takes over from summer to fall , says Dr. Parikh.
And, as mentioned, climate change means allergy season begins earlier and lasts longer, adds Corinne Keet, MD, PhD, a professor and allergist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Specifically, the season has been arriving 20 days earlier than it did in 1990, and contains at least 20 percent more pollen, the New York Times reported.
To get super-specific, Pollen.com has a National Allergy Map that provides an up-to-date allergy forecast in different areas around the country and an Allergy Alert app that gives five-day forecasts with in-depth info on specific allergens, helping you decide if you should stay indoors that day. You should also note that windy, warm, and sunny days can increase levels of pollen turnout, while drizzling or rainy weather is actually associated with no or lower levels of seasonal pollen, explains Clifford W. Bassett, MD, medical director at Allergy and Asthma Care of New York.
Recommended Reading: Can You Eat Twix With A Peanut Allergy