Plants that release pollen in the spring can cause spring allergies

How to welcome the spring season without the allergy attacks

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on March 25, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


The flowers are blooming, the trees are swaying—and you’re about to experience the onset of your yearly seasonal allergy symptoms.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 50 million Americans suffer from symptoms of allergies every year, with many of us suffering during the spring season. From itchy, watery eyes to chest pains, suffering from spring allergy symptoms can affect our daily lives and drain our energy.

If you’re prone to spring allergies, it’s important to first recognize what the root cause of these symptoms may be (our at-home allergy test can help you find out). From there, you can prevent them from occurring or at least be better prepared to manage your seasonal allergy symptoms.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons for spring allergies and steps you can take to prevent allergy triggers before they begin.

Reasons for spring allergies

Pollen

One of the biggest causes of spring allergies is pollen. During late winter and early spring, trees and plants that have been dormant release small grains of pollen into the air to fertilize other plants. With high pollen levels in the air, those of us who are prone to seasonal allergy symptoms start to experience sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; nasal congestion; and other symptoms.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology these are the eleven types of trees that commonly cause spring allergy symptoms:

  • Oak
  • Western red cedar
  • Sycamore
  • Maple
  • Elm
  • Birch
  • Ash
  • Cypress
  • Walnut
  • Hickory
  • Poplar

In the late spring, these plants often disperse grass pollen:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Bluegrass
  • Orchardgrass
  • Red top grass
  • Sweet vernal grass
  • Timothy grass

Rainfall

A lesser-known trigger of your seasonal allergy symptoms? Rainfall. Rain can increase pollen levels, and the winds of rainstorm can also stir up the pollen and mold in the air—making spring allergies worse for those who are sensitive to heightened pollen levels.


Mold

Like trees and their pollen, mold releases mold spores. Mold spores are carried by the wind and cause allergy symptoms from the spring through the fall. Outdoor molds include Alternaria, Cladosporium, and Hormodendrum—while the indoor molds include Aspergillus and Penicillium.


How to prevent spring allergies

Stay indoors

Allergen counts tend to be lower later in the day. To reduce your exposure to allergens and spring allergy symptoms, consider staying indoors when counts are high. By staying indoors, you can reduce your risk of itchy eyes, a runny nose, or other symptoms.


Close windows

Close your windows when you're at home so that the breeze won’t bring in the pollen and aggravate your spring allergies. Also, remember to keep your windows up and shut the vents when you’re driving to avoid tree pollen from entering your car.


Wash clothes

If you’ve spent time outdoors during the day, make sure to wash your clothes because pollen can latch onto clothing fibers. It’s also a good idea to avoid drying your clothing on a clothesline during the spring allergy season when pollen counts are high.


Clean regularly

It’s important to clean and dust regularly if your home is prone to dust mites or you have a dust mite allergy, but it’s also helpful at preventing spring allergies symptoms. Some vacuum cleaners can help suck up dust mites, pollen, and other allergens on sofas and carpets.

If you have a pet, you may also experience pet allergy symptoms. If this is the case, try to clean frequently to reduce pet dander and other allergy triggers in your home.


Limit your time outdoors

To help alleviate seasonal allergies symptoms, avoid the amount of time you spend on outside activities, especially in the morning. If you experience spring allergies, consider outdoor activities when the pollen counts are lower—or opt for a morning at the gym rather than your typical walk through the trees.


Shower

Pollen can get caught in clothing and hair, so showering before bed is a good idea. Not only will this free you of pollen on your body, but it will also help prevent you from tracking pollen into your bed and linens.


Conclusion

If you’ve tried the preventative measures above to take control of your spring allergies and they still aren’t working, it might be time to contact a healthcare professional. An allergist can offer suggestions that may work best for you and help relieve your spring allergy symptoms. Your allergist may also recommend specific medications, eye drops, or nasal sprays that help relieve itchy eyes, clear nasal passages, and reduce other symptoms of allergies. They may also be able to tell you what allergens are in the air today to help you prevent the onset of symptoms.

Whether it's pollen or mold causing your symptoms, the first step is determining the root cause of your allergic symptoms. Our at-home allergy test measures your body’s IgE reactivity levels to 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens such as molds, pets, grass, and more. This test can help you find out what's causing your symptoms.

Once you’ve identified the triggers, you can take proactive measures like staying indoors during peak times of the day when a lot of pollen is in the air, washing clothing where pollen might linger, and making sure to shower before bed.

Use these tips to help you get ahead of your spring allergies and prevent them from occurring—one pollen-filled day at a time.


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References

1. Finding relief in your backyard: a guide to picking less allergenic plants. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. URL. Accessed March 31, 2020.

2. Grass pollen production and group V allergen content of agriculturally relevant species and cultivars. PLOS ONE. URL. Published 2018. Accessed March 31, 2020.

3. What You Don't Know About Spring Allergies Can Cause You Misery. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. URL. Accessed March 13, 2020.

4. Mold Types – Outdoor, Indoor, Water Damage Indicator. Mold Awareness. URL. Accessed March 31, 2020.

5. Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed March 31, 2020.

6. Dust mite allergy. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed March 31, 2020.

7. Pet allergy. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed March 31, 2020.

8. Allergy Medications. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed March 31, 2020.

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