Changing Seasons Bring Allergy Challenges

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It’s been a long winter, and you and your family are ready to get outdoors at the first sign of spring. Beyond sunshine, warmer breezes, and blooming daffodils, you may encounter a not-so-friendly sign of spring: seasonal allergies.

Fast forward six months. It’s back-to-school time, and the leaves are giving their first hints of changing colors. As summer fades into fall, a new set of seasonal allergies may be waiting to bother you.

Spring allergies can begin in February and last through early summer in most parts of the United States. If winter has mostly mild temperatures, plants can begin to pollinate early, causing spring allergies to start earlier than usual.

Symptoms really depend on the weather and when pollen starts coming, explains family physician Anessa Alappatt, MD. “Spring allergies, which are mostly tree allergies, may go away come May. If you’re unlucky enough to have summer allergies, symptoms will linger through the summer.”

Watch Dr. Alappatt talk about spring allergy symptoms.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

What specifically causes us to have allergic reactions as the seasons change? Environmental allergies are caused by pollen and mold. Pollen are tiny grains that come from plants and are needed to fertilize plants, which often rely on insects to transport their pollen. Some pollen is spread around easily by the wind.

Molds are tiny fungi that can be found almost anywhere, both indoors and outside. They grow best in damp, humid places. Mold creates spores that can float through the air like pollen. People can be allergic to pollen and mold.

As summer turns to fall, if the warmer weather lingers, it can lead to problems for allergy sufferers by making symptoms last longer. When the humidity stays high, mold spores can be released in the air, adding to outdoor allergens. Dry, windy weather also adds to spreading mold spores around.

When leaves fall from the trees, it can be more than just an eyesore. For people with allergies, raking leaves can be a major source of irritation. When leaves are raked – especially when wet – they can stir up pollen and mold, sending the allergens into the air and causing allergy and asthma symptoms.

The best solution is to avoid raking, but if that’s not possible, make sure to wear a NIOSH rated N95 mask to help avoid an allergic reaction, says the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Also, remove and wash your clothes as soon as you are back indoors.

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