Seasonal allergies can put a damper on your day. The sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion can turn otherwise beautiful seasons into a nightmare and leave us wondering just how long these seasonal allergies will stick around.
So, how long do seasonal allergies last? Today, we’re discussing the variation between seasonal allergies, which seasons present which common allergies, and the shorter and longer-lasting symptoms.
When Is Allergy Season?
Before we can answer the question, “How long do seasonal allergies last?” we need to determine when allergy season is. The reality is allergy season varies depending on your location and the specific allergens to which you are sensitive. In many regions, the spring, summer, and fall months are most commonly considered high allergy seasons for different types of pollens or mold.
The timing of allergy seasons in different regions can be broken down into different categories:
- Spring allergies
- Late spring to early summer allergies
- Late summer to fall allergies
- Winter allergies
- Year-round allergies
📅 March or April - June
In many regions, spring is the peak season for tree pollen allergies. Trees such as oak, birch, cedar, and maple release pollen during this time, typically from late winter to early summer. Spring allergies often start in March or April and can continue into June. This is also a major season for hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis).
Late Spring to Early Summer Allergies
📅 May - July
Grass pollen allergies typically hit their peak in late spring and early summer, usually from late May to July. Common grasses that trigger allergies include Timothy grass, Meadow grass (also known as Kentucky bluegrass), and Bermuda grass. Warmer, windy days may result in particularly high levels of grass allergens being carried in the air, as can light rainfall and thunderstorms.
Hot, humid regions may also experience an increase in mold spores during this time of the year.
Late Summer to Fall Allergies
📅 August, typically lasting until the first frost.
What causes fall allergies? The most common fall allergen that may affect you is ragweed. Ragweed is a common weed pollen allergen that affects many people in late summer and early fall, usually starting in August and lasting until the first frost.
Other weed pollen allergens, such as sagebrush and pigweed, may also contribute to your fall allergies, making it vital to take an allergy home test affiliated with a CLIA-certified lab for accurate results to determine what you’re allergic to.
This time of the year is another season for rampant hay fever symptoms.
📅 November - January
The winter months are often considered less of an allergy season, but that doesn’t mean there are no winter allergies that might affect you. In some regions, especially those with mild winters, certain trees and plants can release pollen even in the winter months. However, this is less common than the other seasons. Cedar trees can cause allergies Dec-March in Texas, often referred to as “cedar fever”. You may also see more of a spike in indoor allergies such as mice, pets, dust mites, cockroaches, and indoor mold as we begin to spend more time inside.
How long can seasonal allergies last? Sometimes you may be susceptible to different allergens throughout the year, making it feel like those seasonal allergies are actually year-round allergies.
Some allergens, like dust mites, pet dander, and indoor molds, can trigger allergies year-round, especially in indoor environments with poor ventilation or humidity control. While there may be some seasons where pet dander is particularly high (such as summer months when your cat or dog may shed more), the best way to manage symptoms here is to practice ways to reduce allergies at home.
Allergy testing and consultation with an allergist can help you identify your specific triggers and develop a personalized plan for allergy management.
Why Does Allergy Season Vary?
As we answer the question, “how long do seasonal allergies last?” you’ll come to find that allergy seasons may vary due to a variety of factors. This is often due to the complex combination of environmental factors and the presence of different allergens in your region.
Some of the key factors contributing to the variability of allergy seasons:
Geographic location: The timing and intensity of allergy seasons depend on your geographical location. Different regions have different plant species and varying climates, which can influence when these plants release pollen. For example, areas with milder winters may have longer, earlier pollen seasons.
Climate: Weather conditions play a role in determining when and how much pollen is released. Factors such as temperature, humidity, wind, and rainfall can affect pollen production and how it is dispersed. Warm, dry, and windy weather tends to increase pollen levels, while rain can wash pollen from the air. One exception to that is a thunderstorm, which can aggravate grass pollen and leave it suspended in the air.
Types of plant species: Different plants produce pollen at different times of the year. Tree pollen is a common trigger for spring allergies, grasses for late spring to early summer allergies, and weeds for late summer to fall allergies. The presence of specific plant species in a region will impact the timing and length of allergy seasons.
Pollen counts: Pollen counts can vary from year to year, impacting the severity of allergy seasons. Factors like plant growth, rainfall, temperature fluctuations and time of day can influence pollen production.
Environmental factors: Urban environments may have different allergen exposures compared to rural areas due to variations in plant species, pollution levels, and other factors. In fact, pollen can combine with diesel exhaust in urban areas and become even more triggering to the nasal passages. This can lead to differences in allergy season patterns even within the same region.
Indoor allergens: Year-round allergies related to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold, can vary depending on indoor environmental conditions and individual exposure. While year-round allergies aren’t seasonal in the traditional sense, they may vary in severity from season to season, making that an important factor to note.
How Long Do Seasonal Allergies Last?
Knowing how long seasonal allergies can last is essential for anyone who experiences sneezing, congestion, allergy brain fog, and other symptoms that often accompany this condition. While the specific timeline of allergy seasons can vary widely, they generally fall into distinct categories based on their duration.
Shorter Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Some seasonal allergy symptoms may last a shorter period than others. These are uncomfortable but may be more easily managed with antihistamines or other short-term relief aids.
- Sneezing: Sneezing is a common symptom of seasonal allergies but tends to be short-lived. Sneezing usually occurs as a reflex to expel allergens from your nasal passages. Once the allergen exposure decreases, your sneezing may subside.
- Runny or stuffy nose: These symptoms may stick around for a shorter time as they are primarily triggered by the immediate presence of allergens. Once you reduce your exposure, you can alleviate these symptoms relatively quickly.
- Itchy eyes: Itchy and watery eyes are often associated with the immediate contact of allergens. It’s a more manageable symptom that often goes away quickly with short-term treatments.
Longer Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Where some symptoms of seasonal allergies can be managed quickly and effectively, others may be more difficult to alleviate.
- Coughing: Coughing can persist for longer because it may result from postnasal drip, where mucus from your nose and throat trickles down to your lungs. This can continue even after allergen exposure has been reduced.
- Fatigue: Can allergies make you tired? The answer is yes. Allergies can lead to fatigue due to constant inflammation and disrupted sleep patterns caused by symptoms like nasal congestion and sneezing.
- Headache: Some allergy sufferers experience headaches, which can persist if the underlying cause, such as sinus congestion, continues unchecked.
- Skin symptoms: Skin symptoms like hives or eczema may persist if allergens continue to come into contact with your skin. These reactions can be prevalent until the allergen source is eliminated.
The duration of seasonal allergy symptoms can vary depending on the specific symptom and how it is triggered. Additionally, recent research has shown the possibility for longer, more intense allergy seasons to occur due to climate change(1). Effective management and allergy treatment can help shorten the duration of these symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
So, how long can seasonal allergies last? This is a challenging question with many factors at play. The best way to determine how long your seasonal allergies may persist is by taking an allergy test to determine your triggers and when they’re most prevalent in your region. Taking precautions during those peak times will help you get past your seasonal allergies more efficiently and manage any symptoms that arise.
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