The Four Seasons of Allergies

by Melissa Chichester

That familiar tickle in your throat. The coughing. The sneezing. Does that sound familiar?

If so, it might be allergy season yet again. For some, it may seem like allergy season never ends. The Asthma and Allergy Association states that more than 50 million Americans experience allergies every year, so you are definitely not alone.

Each season has its unique contributions to what causes allergies in people (and in some cases, pets can also get these allergies). Let’s take a look at what typical causes seasonal allergies throughout the year.

Summer Allergies

While sunny days and warm weather make most of us cheer for joy after the long and dark winter, for others, seasonal allergies can really ruin these months. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, summer allergies can be as severe as spring and fall. The ACAAI also sites that common causes of allergies in the summer are pollen, mold, and insect bites, but that fresh produce, like celery and apples, may create allergies through what is known as “food pollen syndrome.”

Fall Allergies

Fall is a common time for people to experience allergies, and according to the Asthma and Allergy Association, higher-than-average pollen, ragweed, and pigweed are the most common causes of fall allergies. Ragweed pollen is the most common cause, growing in the United States from early August and peaking in mid-September. Mold is another common cause of fall allergies due to falling leaves.

Winter Allergies

In the winter, people who are allergic to plants and pollen welcome the deep-freeze. It is finally time to experience relief. Unfortunately, many people still experience indoor allergies during this time of year. Common indoor allergies include mold, pet dander, and dust mites. Furnaces also cause indoor allergies from dust and trapped particles that lurk in air filters.

Spring Allergies

Spring is right up there with fall as a high allergy season. With everything in bloom, the pollen counts are typically high. Tree pollen and flower pollen both cause allergies, as do mold spores that can be carried by the wind. Common tree sources of pollen include oak, birch, elm, and hickory.

How to manage allergies

Although it may seem like a no-win situation, there are lifestyle steps you can take to manage allergies, including:

  • Staying inside on windy days
  • Changing your clothes after being exposed to pollen
  • Using a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) air filter indoors
  • Keep air dry with a dehumidifier
  • Use a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner
  • Close windows and doors when pollen counts are high
  • Look at your favorite weather app to find out the pollen levels and the likelihood of allergies
  • Don’t hang laundry outside, as pollen can stick to it

Many over-the-counter aids are designed to help with allergies; however, any severe or persistent allergies should be discussed with your primary care physician or a licensed medical professional.