Allergy season brings the onset of rhinitis and sudden coughing fits, amongst other symptoms. If you notice a sudden increase in symptoms like sneezing, itching, and watery eyes, you’re experiencing an allergic reaction caused by a seasonal allergen. The seasonal allergy calendar prepares you for what to expect.
Allergies are genetically acquired immune reactions, so not everyone experiences them. Say you inhaled some pollen while taking a stroll through a park during springtime. For a regular person, this might be of little or no consequence. But for someone hypersensitive to pollen granules, this could initiate a set of reactions that physically manifest as symptoms of an allergy.
Symptoms of Allergies
Common symptoms of allergies include:
Rhinitis – itchy, runny, or blocked nose
Conjunctivitis – itchy, red, watering eyes
Hives – itchy red rashes
Cough, wheezing, or chest tightness
Dry, red skin
Swelling of lips, eyes, hands, or face
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Anti-allergic medication can treat most of these symptoms. Still, you must seek professional assistance early on to determine the cause of your allergies and the best treatment options available.
Rarely, an allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a body-wide severe allergic reaction that can be fatal. The onset of anaphylaxis is within minutes of exposure to an allergen, and if the correct medical aid is not administered swiftly, chances of survival can be bleak.
Signs of anaphylaxis are:
Swelling of the throat and mouth
Difficulty breathing; wheezing, gasping for air
Blue skin or lips
Collapsing or losing consciousness
If you see someone showing clear signs of anaphylaxis, do not hesitate to properly administer the epi-pen they must have at hand and call for medical assistance.
The allergy season
We know that allergies are caused by certain particles in the air and the kind of reaction they can cause. But does the change in season affect the type of allergen in the air? Why don’t we experience allergies throughout the year?
This is because plant particles cause most allergies. Plants are seasonal creatures, unlike humans. They have seasons of dormancy and reproduction that play a significant role in the seasonal pattern of allergies.
You might want to start marking your calendar with this information. Like every year, allergy season 2022 will roughly last from early spring to fall, i.e., March to October. However, not all allergens are present throughout this period. So unless you’re allergic to all of the allergens mentioned below, you need not worry about sneezing throughout the year. For you, allergy season is confined to the months that your specific allergenic particle is present in the air.
Seasonal allergy calendar
The end of the first quarter marks the beginning of spring and the regrowth of local foliage, and tree pollen is the major allergen in March. After a winter of dormancy, trees enter the pollination stage for reproduction in spring, and maybe even as early as February.
Bothersome rhinitis, eye symptoms, and skin allergies can be activated if you do not take proper precautionary measures to deal with spring allergies. If you like going out during springtime, keep an eye on the pollen count for the day.
Weather reports from spring to fall usually include the pollen count; if the pollen count is reported to be high, it might be best for you to stay indoors.
April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring a set of spring allergies. April showers kick off the new blooming season in May. The summer sun of May/June brings newly blooming flowers and greener grass. With this, a fresh surge of grass and flower pollen also takes over the air.
During this time of the year, optimal conditions keep the grass pollen level consistent, so even if you manage to avoid allergies in early spring, they are most likely to be triggered now.
Hot and dry July can be deemed a safe month for allergens. By this time, trees will have stopped pollinating, so spring allergens like the tree, grass, and weed pollen are likely to subside. Since July does not bring much rain, fall plants have not yet begun pollinating, and mold spore counts remain low.
As fall sets in, weed pollination resumes, and allergy symptoms return. The main fall allergen is ragweed, a common flowering plant. 75% of the people who suffer are allergic to it, so be prepared for your allergies to act up in the fall. August 15 is commonly known as the start of ragweed season, which is expected to be the same in 2022 as well.
The term ‘hay fever’ describes these symptoms in the fall. When farmers harvest hay, they experience similar symptoms – thus the self-explanatory name. However, research in pollen allergies revealed that these symptoms are due to ragweed pollen instead of hay exposure. Although misnamed, the term has stuck around, much like the symptoms which may persist for weeks or even months.
Ragweed season may last through October and even early November. Another allergen you may be exposed to during this season is mold spores.
Mold produces spores just like flowers, and other wind/insect-pollinated plants produce pollen for the proliferation of their species. Mold thrives in decomposing plant matter – no wonder it reproduces rapidly during fall when most plants are shedding off their leaves. Spores can float through the air and irritate the eyes, nose, and skin.
Common plant allergens
Mostly, plants that are non-flowering or do not have the most attractive flowers depend on wind pollination for reproduction. Pollen from weeds, grasses, and some trees are the most common allergens. Listed below are some types that you can familiarize yourself with and look out for to avoid when you’re outdoors.
Weeds: ragweed, sagebrush, redroot pigweed, English plantain
Grasses: ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, Johnson grass
Trees: alder, ash, birch, beech
Our body has strong immune mechanisms to ward off any invading particles. In the case of allergies, a hypersensitivity reaction occurs when the body overreacts. The particle may be ingested at the cellular level, but reaction symptoms are still manifested.
Like a well-oiled machine, constant exposure to these particles also ensures our body is well-tuned to fighting off the invading particles. In light of COVID-19 and the extensive lockdowns in recent years, it may be noticeable how children are more prone to allergic reactions. This may be because staying indoors and having limited outdoor exposure has made their bodies more sensitive because they did not contact the allergen.
Another reason for aggravated allergies is climate change. Because of rising temperatures and rapidly increasing air pollution, we see longer allergy seasons, more pollen production, and stronger air-borne particles. This means a higher likelihood of developing allergic reactions, especially asthma.
Dealing with seasonal allergies
Now that you are equipped with a seasonal calendar and knowledge of common allergens, you can prepare for allergy season 2022. Wearing a mask when outdoors will effectively prevent inhaling spores and pollen granules. You could also refer to a physician to know your actual allergies and take appropriate preventive measures. Take your allergies seriously, and you might do good on making 2022 your healthiest year yet!