Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has dedicated May to be Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, to bring awareness to these two medical conditions and how they can impact peoples’ lives.
The AAFA also just published their 2023 Allergy Capitals Report – check it out to see where your city ranks and get tips on how to manage your seasonal allergies to improve your quality of life.
Here’s our own roundup of spring allergies across the U.S.:
Many cities in the southeastern U.S. are notorious for seasonal allergies, namely, Columbia/ Greenville (South Carolina), Charlotte/ Winston-Salem (North Carolina), and Sarasota/ Orlando (Florida).
According to Dr. Maeve O’Connor, founder, and medical director at Allergy Asthma and Immunology Relief of Charlotte, North Carolina, “In the Charlotte area, the spring season started early this year, and it’s expected to last longer as well, due to climate change and extreme weather patterns.
“The most common spring allergens in the southeast include pollen from these trees: ash, beech, birch, cedar, hickory maple, oak, poplar, sycamore, walnut, and willow. Currently, elm, cedar, and cottonwood trees are generating the highest amount of pollen in the Charlotte, NC area. Grass allergies tend to peak around early summer as well,” continued Dr. O’Connor.
According to Dr. Melissa Schwartz, founder of the Montgomery County ENT Institute, “With the mild winter in Philadelphia and the Northeast corridor, trees started budding earlier, and pollen counts were already up to moderate levels in March. And a very windy March has increased allergy symptoms for those spending lots of time outdoors.
“In Philadelphia, the most common allergens are pollen from birch, sycamore, elm, maple, and oak trees. Birch pollen appears first, followed by the others. These trees release pollen from March through May in a typical year. Grass pollen allergies begin in April and will vary in severity based on rain levels, and can possibly last into July,” added Dr. Schwartz.
The AAFA Allergy Capitals Report ranks Northeastern cities such as Scranton/ Allentown (Pennsylvania), Rochester/ Albany (New York), and Worcester/ Springfield (Massachusetts) among the most challenging cities for spring allergies.
This spring, record rainfall and stormy weather in California and the Pacific Northwest have worsened allergy symptoms for many adults and children, according to UCLA Health. Heavy rains have pummeled pollen into smaller particles that are more easily inhaled and reach deeper into the lungs – so symptoms have been more persistent and worse.
Physicians have noticed an increase in consultations for nasal congestion, runny nose, and a cough that doesn’t go away. There is also symptom overlap with a fall and winter prolonged surge in upper respiratory illnesses.
Dr. Alan Goldsobel of Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California, and Tivic Health Medical Advisory Board Member says, “Steady rainfall can wash pollen away from the air and improve allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms (nose and eye problems caused by allergens). However, this improvement can be short-lived as plants tend to grow, flower, and produce more pollen after a good rainfall, thus worsening symptoms.”
Roundup of tips to manage your spring allergy symptoms:
- Minimize your exposure as much as possible by monitoring your allergy tracker for what to expect in your area and avoid the outdoors before a storm and the first few days afterward.
- Stay home and keep your windows closed. Use your air conditioning and/or a HEPA purifier to filter allergens.
- If you use a humidifier, keep humidity levels in your home between 40-50%.
- When visible green pollen dust shows up on your car windshield or hood, it’s best to drive with your windows up to minimize exposure.
- In general, avoid peak pollen times, usually around 5-10 am and at dusk. Pollen is also higher on warm, breezy days.
- Use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray or rinse to clear pollen from your nasal passages and throat area.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with seasonal allergies in the past, consider starting your meds right away to avoid symptoms worsening after several days of exposure.
- Consider using ClearUP, a non-invasive bioelectronic sinus device that treats nasal congestion and sinus pain/pressure associated with seasonal allergies. ClearUP is 100% drug-free and provides rapid, lasting relief, allowing patients to breathe more easily.
If your symptoms worsen, consult with a board-certified allergist about treatment options.