A Quick Guide to Seasonal Allergies

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Pollen, Grass, Ragweed and Mold spores

For more than 24 million Americans, the flowering trees and mild weather of spring and summer, signals another allergy season in full bloom. The cause: substances such as pollen, grass, ragweed and mold spores enter the body and are mistakenly identified as a threat by the immune system, triggering a variety of symptoms. We hope you find some comfort in this quick guide to seasonal allergies.

Reduce the effects of seasonal allergies

  • Pollen and spores can be carried into the home on your clothes or enter through windows during allergy season.
  • Know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. Weather reports often include this information during allergy seasons. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning. For an interactive map to view allergy levels and pollen count forecasts, visit pollen.com.
  • If your allergy symptoms are very bothersome:
    • Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
    • Use a bedspread or sheet to cover your bedding during the day, then remove it or fold it back at night. This will help keep the pollen off of the bedding you sleep in.
    • Change your pillowcase often.
    • Wear sunglasses and a hat outside to keep pollen out of eyes and hair. Your COVID-19 mask could provide a protective barrier against pollen.


Seasonal allergies are often treated with over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines (non-drowsy types are available), nasal steroid sprays, decongestants and immunotherapy (allergy shots that expose you over time to gradual increments of the allergen), as well as alternative methods. Another method is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), which is self-administered daily. Please check with your healthcare provider to discuss what’s right for you.

Symptom Checker: Is It Allergies, a Cold or COVID-19?

Allergies Colds Covid-19
Duration of symptoms Allergy season 4-10 days Varies
Mucus Thin, watery and clear Thick and yellow/green
New loss of taste or smell Uncommon Uncommon Often (early)
Itchy or watery eyes Usually Rarely Rarely
Sneezing Usually Sometimes Rarely
Cough Frequent Usually Usually
Shortness of breath Sometimes allergens can exacerbate a respiratory condition Sometimes Usually
Sore throat Frequent Usually Usually
Fever Never Sometimes Usually
Diarrhea Never Uncommon Sometimes
Contagious Never Yes Yes
Body aches Never Sometimes Usually
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes Usually

Not Your Imagination: Pollen Season May Be Getting Worse

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), climate change has made pollen season longer and more severe throughout North America. A recent study showed that pollen seasons for plants like trees, grasses, and weeds showed a 20-day increase in length and a 21% increase in pollen concentration from 1990 to 2018. Notably the researchers also found that the pollen produced is more allergenic – more likely to trigger an allergic reaction with fewer grains of pollen in the air.


Allergy testing can be done at our office, however, patients need to be off their allergy medications prior to testing. We recommend testing after the first frost or before the ski area closes so there is no need for patients to stop taking their medication during allergy season.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, ACAAI

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