Spring allergies typically begin in March with tree pollen and end in May with grass pollen, so they can continue from March to June, according to Purvi Parikh, M.D., a New York allergist and spokeswoman for the Allergy & Asthma Network.
Pollen can affect you even if there aren’t many trees near your house or job, according to Jessica Hui, M.D., a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. Pollens have the ability to travel hundreds of kilometres, she explains. Birch, oak, maple, and elm are some of the most prominent triggers for the 6 million American children and 20 million people who suffer from spring allergies.
While allergies might manifest as a lot of sniffling and sneezing, they can also manifest as a variety of strange symptoms (a.k.a. hay fever and allergic rhinitis). Doctors describe the most common—and perplexing—symptoms of spring allergies, as well as how to treat them.
When the trees bloom, do you get a sudden impulse to sneeze? When pollen is discharged by an irritating plant and enters your nose, your immune system instructs your brain to forcefully expel it.
If you’re not sure whether you have allergies, a cold, flu, or COVID-19, keep this in mind: According to Dr. Hui, if it’s allergies, you won’t have a fever or experience the pains and weariness that occur with a virus. (However, if your symptoms start to disrupt your sleep, allergies might make you feel exhausted.)
2. Coughing or a sore throat
Postnasal drip, an irritating trickle of mucus from your sinuses into your throat, is a common symptom of spring allergies. “Patients will tell us, ‘I cough a lot in the morning.’ Dr. Hui explains that when he lies down, he feels a leak down the back of his throat, which can cause coughing or even a sore throat. The throat symptoms normally go away once the discharge is gone (often with the help of nasal sprays or antihistamines).
Whether you have allergies or not, it’s critical to maintain wearing a face mask in public to cover your nose and mouth when necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
3. Itchy, red, and watery eyes
Histamines, which are molecules released by mast cells in your body when they detect an invader, such as tree pollen, are responsible for the majority of allergy symptoms. According to Dr. Parikh, histamines can induce swelling and inflammation in your eyes, making them watery, gritty, or irritating.
4. Shiners with allergies
Spring allergies might make you look as though you’ve been knocked out in a boxing bout at times. “What we call allergy shiners—when you have swelling under your eyes and the skin turns bluish—is a classic symptom that allergists look for,” explains Dr. Hui. Congestion in the tiny blood veins beneath the skin under the eyes causes this.
Allergy sufferers often have a stuffy, dull headache known as a “sinus headache,” according to Dr. Hui, who notes that the drippiness can clog up your nose and sinuses, causing everything to back up. She continues, “All that pressure may absolutely build up and cause a headache.”
6. Itchy and dry skin
If your skin becomes dry and itchy in the spring, it could be a sign of atopic dermatitis, often known as eczema, which is caused by an allergen causing inflammation and irritation in the skin. “Food allergies are the most common cause of eczema in babies, but it can also be caused by pollen, mold, dust mites, or pets as children become older,” explains Dr. Parikh. Although most children grow out of it, it can continue afflict up to 3% of adults.
7. Symptoms of Asthma
Allergens are the most prevalent trigger for the 25 million Americans who suffer from asthma, according to Dr. Parikh. When you inhale an allergen (such as pet dander, mold, dust mites, or pollen), your immune system responds by generating antibodies that can cause inflammation of your lungs’ airways, making it difficult to breathe.
8. Ears that are clogged and itchy
Spring allergies affect every part of your body, including your face. Dr. Parikh points out that your ears can feel itchy and blocked in addition to inflamed eyes and a stuffy nose. Congestion can cause this, but it could also be related to the next symptom on the list…
9. Strange reactions to fruit
Biting into a particular piece of fruit might cause itchy ears, puffiness, and hives around your mouth, which is one of the more perplexing symptoms of spring allergies. According to Dr. Parikh, this could be related to pollen food allergy syndrome, which occurs because the fruit has the same chemical structure as pollen. This isn’t true for everyone with a pollen allergy (see your doctor to be sure), but it’s usually associated to the following:
– Birch pollen: Apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear.
– Celery, melons, oranges, peaches, and tomatoes contain grass pollen.
– Pollen from ragweed can be found in bananas, cucumbers, melons, sunflower seeds, and zucchini.
The good news, according to Dr. Parikh, is that the reaction can be avoided simply boiling the offending fruit.