When Is Allergy Season?

Allergies are an immune system reaction caused by allergens, which can include pollen, pet dander, dust, and other foreign substances. When a person is sensitive to certain irritants, their immune system responds to that trigger with the production of antibodies. These are blood proteins designed to fight off specific molecules known as antigens.

When a specific substance is more abundant during a specific time of the year, the symptoms that some people experience are referred to as seasonal allergies. Read on to find out more about what type of allergies are the most prevalent throughout the year.

A woman suffering from hay fever while sunbathing in her garden.

Andrew Fox / Getty Images

Prevalence of Allergies

In the United States, more than 50 million people suffer from allergies each year. Allergies are also the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the country.

Globally, roughly 300 million people suffer from allergies each year. Research suggests that those numbers continue to rise, especially in children who suffer from allergy-driven asthma.

Symptoms

When the immune system responds to an allergen, it releases one type of chemical known as histamine to fight off the substance. When this chemical is released, symptoms develop.

While most allergies are mild, a severe form of allergic reaction can occur known as anaphylaxis. Seasonal allergies are not typically the cause of anaphylaxis.

The main symptoms of seasonal allergies are:

Does Everyone Experience Allergies in the Same Way?

While many people may be allergic to the same substances, such as dander or pollen, the way each individual's body reacts to the substance is different. Further, in one season a person may be without symptoms at all and but cannot seem to get rid of them in another. Seasonal allergies strike everyone differently.

When Is Allergy Season?

Allergy season can occur at any point during the year, because there are various types of allergens that can lead to symptoms. It depends entirely on how a person responds to the substances they are exposed to. However, the following is a general timeline for seasonal allergies.

Season Start and End Dates
Spring March 20–June 20
Summer June 21–September 21
Fall September 22–December 20
Winter December 21–March 20

Fall Allergies

Fall allergies develop because of high amounts of allergens, such as grass and ragweed, are very common in many areas during the fall months.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are several different plants that can trigger seasonal fall allergies. Other than ragweed, these plants include:

  • Burning bush
  • Cocklebur
  • Lamb’s-quarter
  • Pigweed
  • Sagebrush
  • Mugwort
  • Tumbleweed
  • Russian thistle

Factors

Some other factors are associated with the onset of seasonal fall allergies. These factors revolve around climate and can include:

  • Cool nights and warm days that cause ragweed pollen to thrive
  • High heat and humidity that drives mold growth
  • Spending time outdoors during the morning when pollen levels are at their highest
  • High pollen counts after a rainfall
  • High winds that increase pollen counts in the air

Can You Move Away From Allergies?

Unfortunately, there is virtually nowhere in the country that is safe from all allergens. Moving will not help you escape the allergens that trigger symptoms, but the symptoms themselves may vary based on the season and region.

Winter Allergies

Although winter allergies are less common than fall and spring allergies, they do exist. The same allergy symptoms will occur; however, they are typically caused by indoor allergens as opposed to the ones acquired outside in the warmer months.

Indoor allergens can include:

  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Cockroaches

These are year-round allergy triggers, but they can be heightened in the winter due to spending more time indoors, thus increasing exposure to them.

Factors

The biggest factor causing winter allergies is the extra time spent indoors, around indoor allergens, when the temperature drops outside.

In areas of the country where winter is warm or tropical, winter allergies are not caused by too much time indoors. Rather, they are due to the warm climate allowing for grass to pollinate throughout much of the year.

Where You Live and Seasonal Allergies

Studies show that it isn’t just different seasons that can trigger seasonal allergies. Geography can play a major role in the development of allergies. People living close to the equator are at an increased risk of developing allergies or asthma regardless of pollen counts.

Spring Allergies

Spring is the time of year most people experience seasonal allergies. This is due to the pollen that is released by plants in the spring.

Trees are often the most to blame for spring allergies. Some specific tree allergens include:  

  • Oak trees
  • Birch trees
  • Cedar
  • Alder
  • Horse chestnut
  • Willow
  • Poplar

Factors

The climate has a lot to do with spring allergies, because a more mild winter can lead to an early spring thaw. This causes an earlier, and subsequently longer, spring season and worsened spring allergies.

Typically, the spring sees a lot of rainfall and that can also trigger symptoms. While rain washes away pollen, after the rain has finished falling, pollen counts rise significantly.  

Treatment

Treatment for seasonal allergies typically relies on medications, but some natural remedies also may help.

Medication

There are several types of medications that are given for seasonal allergies. They include:

  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines are medications designed to inhibit the action of histamines, which cause some allergy symptoms.
  • Antileukotrienes: Leukotriene, a chemical produced in the body, is released in response to an allergen and causes symptoms that affect the airways. Antileukotrienes are designed to lessen their action, and thus, help prevent and ease symptoms. 
  • Glucocorticoids: Glucocorticoids can reduce the inflammation in the body caused by immune system as it fights allergens.

Natural Remedies

In some cases, natural remedies can be used alongside other medications or on their own to help reduce allergy symptoms. Some natural remedies include:

  • Saline nasal irrigation, which is the rinsing of the nasal cavity using saltwater
  • Butterbur, which is an herb that has been shown to help relieve itchy eyes
  • Frankincense essential oil may be used to reduce symptoms of allergies

Prevention

The best way to prevent allergies is by avoiding triggers. While this can be difficult, it will help you avoid symptoms.

Other ways you can prevent allergy symptoms include:

  • Stay indoors if the pollen count is high.
  • Avoid drying your clothes on an outdoor line if the pollen count is high.
  • Protect your eyes with wraparound sunglasses.
  • Try to keep all the doors and windows to your home shut whenever possible during allergy season.

Can I Take Medication to Prevent Allergy Symptoms?

There are some medications that can be taken daily as a preventive measure to avoid allergy symptoms. Some research has also found that including the dietary supplement spirulina may also help to prevent allergy symptoms.

Summary

Allergies can affect people throughout the year due to different allergens, or allergy triggers. Seasonal allergies are allergies that are more likely to affect people during a specific time of year. Seasonal allergies are most common in the spring, but can occur anytime of year or in any geographic area.

Treatment for allergies includes antihistamines, antileukotrienes, glucocorticoids, or natural remedies like saline nasal irrigation. Allergies can be prevented by avoiding allergy triggers.

A Word From Verywell

Allergies can be difficult to cope with even if your symptoms are mild. While there is no way you can completely avoid allergens all the time, you can incorporate strategies to further prevent symptoms. If you have severe allergies that affect how your daily functioning, speak to your healthcare provider about possible medications that may be helpful for you. Seasonal allergies are uncomfortable, but they can be effectively managed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you know if you have seasonal allergies?

    If you are suffering from any of the symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as itchy or watery eyes, a stuffy or runny nose, or a cough, you could have seasonal allergies. The best way to tell if they are allergies is by monitoring when they come and go and whether other symptoms are present. This can include body aches and fevers, which can indicate something other than seasonal allergies is the cause.

  • How can you tell whether you have allergies or COVID-19?

    There are several symptoms of seasonal allergies and COVID-19 that overlap. However, there also are many COVID-19 symptoms that would not occur with seasonal allergies, such as a fever, a loss of taste or smell, and body aches or pains. It’s important to pay close attention to your symptoms to ensure that you are seeking the proper medical care.

  • How can you tell whether you have allergies or a cold?

    Colds can present with symptoms that would not occur with an allergy, such as a fever. If you have itchy or watery eyes accompanied by other symptoms that are similar to the cold, it’s likely that you have an allergy. Monitor your symptoms accordingly and when in doubt, call your healthcare provider.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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