It hardly seems fair. Just as spring brings warmer temperatures, pollen production revs up, setting off allergy season. Experts say this year could be particularly brutal thanks to greater weather and temperature fluctuations.
"Patients are already symptomatic," Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York allergist and immunologist, told Healthline. "The ups and downs in weather this year ... are throwing everyone's allergies for a loop."
Although the timing and severity of allergy season vary across the country, pollen season typically starts in spring and continues through the summer, starting to diminish around May. Many experts say this allergy season may be shorter than usual but that it may be more severe, too. Because of the unusually late snow that occurred this year, pollination is likely to be delayed. Therefore, when the pollen does hit, it could come on particularly strong. Unlike a cold, which may be accompanied by muscle aches and tiredness, allergies generally cause sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's online list of worst allergy spots is not yet available but is expected soon. For now, experts say those in Southern states will likely experience the most intense part of the season in late April, while those in Northern states and the Midwest could see the worst of the season in mid- to late May.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion.
Dr. Jason Knuffman, an allergist-immunologist affiliated with several hospitals in Illinois, told WGEM that if you're already starting to experience allergy symptoms, you should start treating them sooner rather than later.
"If someone has allergies on their very best day they're going to have congestion and drainage and then if they get a cold or something on top of that it could lead them into a sinus infection, bronchitis, and worsening symptoms, he said. "That's why it's important if you do have allergies and you really know that you struggle during a certain time of the year like spring time or fall, that you start on your medicine, especially the nosesprays."
In addition to medicine, you might try eating more radishes to help with your allergies, as they have anticongestive properties. Wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can prevent pollen from blowing into your eyes, which could alleviate allergy symptoms. Also, you might try exercising outdoors at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning, as trees release their pollen at first light.
Allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion can be particularly serious for older people who suffer from pre-existing cardiovascular problems. Therefore, allergies experienced by the elderly should be treated as quickly as possible.
Before deciding what treatment is best for you, speak with your doctor or a board-certified allergist.