For some, spring allergies progress as symptoms that began during winter months and persist into the next season. For others, it’s a sharper contrast. March through May are typically the most severe times of the year for those with allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or ‘hay fever’.
Due to the large variety of plant species that can cause allergy symptoms to appear as the weather begins to warm up, it is important to understand how and when they can occur so that allergies can be reduced, prevented and/or treated. What’s more is that this year’s allergy season is expected to be worse than last year’s (which was already an outlier in its own right).
Flowers and spring are closely associated with anecdotes like “April showers bring May flowers”, but many types of flowers are not the main source of pollen that we connect with allergy symptoms. That isn't to say there aren’t a few types of flowers that can cause allergies, but tree pollens are actually some of the heaviest influencers on allergy sufferers during the spring season, especially in the earlier months.
Ash, cedar, cypress, elm, hickory, maple, oak, poplar, and sycamore are some examples of likely allergy sources. Grasses are the next largest source of allergens in the spring months, often carrying into early summer. May is considered a cross-over period for higher allergy counts in both types, but luckily for some areas around the country, the peak seasons for these types of plants differ slightly.
While weeds (like ragweed) are also a top allergy producer, they don’t usually start producing significant amounts of pollen until summer and through fall (and occasionally into winter months for irregularly warm winters).
What can I do to prevent or avoid spring allergies?