Spring is a beautiful time of year. The weather warms up, flowers begin to bloom, and the days get longer. These can all be good things! But for many of us, the arrival of spring means the onset of seasonal allergies. This year, we're taking a regional approach to allergy season. Up first? The Southeast.
As a region, the Southeastern Unites States is actually known for its high pollen count. In this blog, we will explore the specific allergens that crop up during the spring season in the Southeast, when they are most prevalent, and some tips for avoiding and managing allergy symptoms.
Pollen is the primary culprit when it comes to spring allergies. Trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny grains of pollen into the air, which can trigger allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to them.
In the Southeast, some of the most common pollen sources to look out for include:
Juniper: If your allergy season started last month, Juniper may be the culprit – a tree that has been known to produce allergens as early as December in the South. Juniper pollen is fine and light, and it can travel long distances, making it a potent allergen that can cause symptoms even in people who live far away from the source of the pollen.
Alder: Alder trees typically produce allergens in the south during the late winter and early spring months, usually from February to April. This is when the trees begin to bloom and release pollen into the air, which can trigger allergies in some people.
Oak: Oak trees are abundant in the Southeast, and their pollen is one of the most prevalent allergens in the region. Oak pollen typically starts to appear in late February or early March and can last through May.
Pine: Pine trees are also common in the Southeast, and their pollen can trigger allergy symptoms in some people. Pine pollen is typically released in early spring and can last until June. Pine pollen is particularly tricky because it can travel long distances and cause allergic reactions even in people who live far away from the source of the pollen.
Grass: Grasses are prevalent in the Southeast, and their pollen can cause allergies in many people. Different types of grasses release pollen at different times, but generally, grass pollen season in the Southeast starts in April and can last through June. Bermuda grass is one of the more common and definitely the most potent allegen-producing grass in the region. Johnson grass, Kentucky bluegrass, and rye grass have also been known to cause allergic reactions, and timothy grass is a common cause of hay fever.
When Do Allergies Crop Up?
Pun intended 😂 The timing of allergy season in the Southeast can vary depending on where you live and the specific allergens that affect you. In general, though, spring allergies in the Southeast tend to start in late February or early March and can last until June. The peak of allergy season typically occurs in late April or early May, when pollen counts are at their highest.
How to Avoid and/or Manage Symptoms
If you suffer from spring allergies in the Southeast, there are several things you can do to avoid or manage your symptoms. Here are some tips:
Check the Pollen Count: Keep track of the pollen count in your area and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. You can find pollen count information on weather websites or by using allergy apps.
Avoid Peak Pollen Hours: Try to stay indoors during peak pollen hours, which are typically early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Wear a Mask: If you must go outside during peak pollen hours, wearing a mask is a simple way to filter out some of the pollen.
Keep Your Indoors Clean: In addition to regular cleaning with non-toxic products and using an air purifier with high quality HEPA filters, it can be helpful to take a quick shower (don't forget to wash your hair!) when you reenter the house. The goal is to wash off any pollen that has attached itself to your clothes, skin, and hair while outside, avoiding any further transfer into the air around you or surfaces in your house.
Armor Up: Over-the-counter allergy medications, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays, can help relieve allergy symptoms. A quality probiotic can also help you through allergy season (you read that right, your gut microbiome can actually play a role in allergic response!) If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications or allergy shots.
Spring allergies are a common problem in the Southeast due to the high pollen count in the region. By knowing which allergens to look out for, when they are most prevalent, and how to avoid or manage your symptoms, you can still enjoy the beauty of the season without suffering from allergies.