It’s a dry, windy day, and your allergies are making you miserable. You’re constantly sneezing, you’ve already blown through a whole box of tissue, and your eyes are maddeningly itchy. Yesterday wasn’t like this—could the weather really make such a big difference? The answer is, yes. Different allergens, including pollen and mold, are always capable of kicking off reactions, but Mother Nature can heighten their effects with varying weather patterns.
Let’s first look at seasons and how they affect allergies:
- Spring—These are the glory days for pollens—especially tree pollens. Trees can start pollinating as early as January in warm parts of the country. Spring showers can also cause mold to grow, triggering mold allergies. Spring and fall are known for being the worst allergy seasons.
- Summer—Just as tree pollens are dissipating, grass pollens take over in the early months of summer. A lot of people despise the heat, but it can be very helpful for tampering down pollination levels. For most people, allergies die down at the peak of summer heat.
- Fall—Weed pollens come out to play in fall, with ragweed being the worst of all. The vast majority (around 75 percent) of people with pollen allergies react to ragweed. Nationwide, it’s estimated that as many as 20 percent of Americans are allergic to ragweed, and ragweed can produce up to a billion pollen grains in a single season. In addition to weeds, molds can peak in fall, adding to allergic misery.
- Winter—Winter is a respite for many allergic people as a hard frost can kill off most pollens. But as people hang out indoors to escape the chilly weather, they become exposed to indoor allergens such as dust and pet dander (for pet owners).
Certain days within seasons can be more allergy-inducing, depending on the weather. Here’s a look at some of the most problematic weather conditions when it comes to allergies:
- Rain or humidity—Pollens die down on wet days because they are too heavy with moisture to waft through the air. Mold and dust, on the other hand, are exacerbated by moisture.
- Wind—The wind picks up pollen granules and sends them soaring through the air where they can get into your airways and on your hair and clothing.
- Cold weather—Cold temperatures can irritate the airways, sending people who are prone to allergy-related asthma into a fit of wheezing and coughing.
- Hot weather—Hot air can trap air pollution, which can in turn stir up allergic asthma.
Check your local pollen forecast before heading outdoors. If you’re allergic to pollen, avoid keeping your windows open or going outside when pollens are at their highest. If mold is your nemesis, make sure to keep a dehumidifier in your house and ventilate kitchens, bathrooms, and basements well. For dust, install HEPA filters, wash bedding frequently, and consider replacing carpet with wood or tile floors.
If your allergic misery persists, contact an allergy doctor about allergy immunotherapy, whether through allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (under-the-tongue allergy drops). This natural allergy treatment can provide long-term relief from your symptoms, regardless of the season or weather.