All About Spring Allergies: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Spring Allergies: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

March 8, 2022

Spring means flower buds and blooming trees — and if you're one of the millions of people in the US who have seasonal allergies, it also means sneezing, congestion, a runny nose and other bothersome symptoms. Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you miserable.

Spring is typically associated with tree pollen beginning to stir up in the air, but there are other types of pollen that can contribute to a problematic spring allergy season as well.

What are common symptoms associated with spring allergies?

The most common allergy symptoms associated with spring allergies are typically:

  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Headaches - sometimes called ‘allergy headaches’ or ‘sinus headaches’
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Trouble sleeping throughout the night or waking up feeling tired

Some even struggle with frequent sinus infections and even ear infections as a result of chronic allergy symptoms that are left untreated.

What are the most common spring allergies?

The biggest and most prominent spring allergy trigger is pollen, however there are many different types of pollen, the most problematic being:

  • Tree pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Weed pollen

Tree pollen can be carried for miles by the spring breeze and are one of the biggest problems for allergy sufferers in spring. The most common types of tree pollen are:

  • Oak
  • Elm
  • Ash
  • Maple
  • Birch
  • Bayberry
  • Cypress Poplar
Even Juniper or Cedar, which is typically a winter-pollinating tree, can contribute to high pollen levels in the early spring depending on how warm the winter weather is.

Grass pollen is often thought of as a summer allergy
, but it gets its start in spring and depending on the weather, can begin releasing pollen in late spring, also being carried in the wind for several miles like tree pollen.

Grass pollen is tiny, microscopic actually. You most likely will never be able to see it in the air, but your body will certainly react if you’re allergic. Dry and windy days tend to make allergies to grass pollen worse, whereas cold or damp weather can lessen the impact of grass pollen.

The most common types of grasses that cause allergies are:

  • Johnson grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Rye grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Timothy grass

Weed allergies can also contribute to spring allergies
, although they tend to peak in late summer and early fall and go beyond the common spring allergies like tree and grass pollen.

The main contributor to weed pollen allergies is ragweed, with about 75% of spring allergy sufferers being allergic to it. But in addition to ragweed, there are other common weeds that pollinate and cause problems for allergy sufferers.

Common allergenic weeds are:

  • Ragweed
  • Goldenrod
  • Pigweed
  • Curly dock
  • Cocklebur
  • Dandelion
  • Lamb’s quarters
  • Nettle
  • Sagebrush

How To Treat Spring Allergies

While the most common way people treat their spring allergy symptoms is with antihistamine use, this is not a good long-term solution, despite the fact that many Americans take antihistamines for years and years on end with no break.

Antihistamines are designed for short term use here and there during peak allergy seasons, not on an ongoing basis.

The best and most effective way to treat allergies is through immunotherapy, which is the process of slowly introducing an allergen to the body. The goal of immunotherapy is for the body to slowly accept the allergen and no longer see it as a threat, which then lessens or completely eliminates allergy symptoms.

Allergy drops, also called sublingual immunotherapy, are the easiest way to treat allergies because you can take them from home, work and can even travel safely with them. Allergy drops involve taking three drops under the tongue three times a day over the course of several years. Allergy drops are not a quick fix, but they work similar to allergy shots in that they achieve long-term desensitization to allergies.

Allergy shots involve weekly trips to an allergist’s office over the course of several years. Many people start out thinking this is a good option, however the drop off rate is very high due to the weekly appointments eventually becoming inconvenient.

There are many studies showing that allergy drops are just as effective as allergy shots, but are more convenient and therefore more sustainable than allergy shots over time.

Further Reading
Who is a Candidate for Allergy Drops?
In this article, we explain who the best candidates are for allergy drops.
February 15, 2022
All You Need to Know About Exercising With Allergies
If you have seasonal allergies, check out these 6 tips to help combat allergy symptoms when you exercise.
March 1, 2022