When is allergy season 2022

Are you running out of tissues faster than usual? Have your eyes been itchy lately? Or maybe you’ve noticed an increase in sinus pressure (and not just because of the change in temperature). You’re not alone. The 2022 allergy season has officially begun and seasonal allergy sufferers around the world are stepping out with the usual remedies.

For your information, seasonal allergies start when your body’s immune system reacts to outside allergens like tree pollen and grass, according to Neeta Ogden, MD, allergist and Curex medical advisor. These allergens enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth and can eventually reach your lungs. There, the allergens come into contact with the allergic cells in your body, causing inflammation and typical symptoms such as itchy eyes, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, skin rashes, itchy scalp and discharge. postnasal,” says Dr. Ogden.

Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may have all of these symptoms or just a few. You may also experience what Dr. Ogden calls a reactive airway, which means it’s harder for you to breathe when you come into contact with allergens outdoors. It’s “almost like an asthmatic response to springtime allergies,” she explains.

Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent your allergies from making your life miserable, and the sooner you start, the better. Here’s when allergy season officially starts, how long you can expect it to last, and what you can do now to prevent those annoying symptoms from showing up later.

When does the 2022 allergy season start?

Some allergens, such as pollens, are seasonal. Tree pollen appears in spring (usually late March to April), grass pollen arrives in late spring (around May), while weed pollen is more prevalent in summer (July to August) and ragweed pollen takes over from summer to fall (late August until the first frost), says Purvi Parikh, MD, allergist and immunologist at Allergy & Asthma Network.

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But if you’re one of the unlucky few whose allergies last most of the year, there are a few other factors to consider. First, your seasonal allergies could combine with your body’s reactions to indoor allergens like dust mites or animal dander, notes Dr. Ogden. You can also bring outdoor allergens into your home – you can actually collect pollen and grass on your shoes, on your clothes, or even in your hair.

Therefore, you may continue to experience symptoms even after the official end of allergy season, from February to November. So pretty much all seasons except winter.

And climate change means allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer, adds Corinne Keet, MD, PhD, professor and allergist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Specifically, the season arrives 20 days earlier than in 1990 and contains at least 20% more pollen, the New York Times reported.

To be super specific, Pollen.com has a National Allergy Card which provides an up-to-date allergy forecast in different parts of the country and a Allergy Alert App which provides a five-day forecast with detailed information on specific allergens, helping you decide if you should stay indoors that day. You should also note that windy, warm, and sunny days can increase pollen participation levels, while drizzly or rainy weather is actually associated with zero or lower seasonal pollen levels, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, medical director at Allergy and Asthma Care of New York.

But even if you think allergy season is just that, allergic, it actually poses quite a significant health risk depending on the severity of the condition in which your area is affected. For people with major lung issues like asthma, allergens like pollen exposure can pose a major threat to their physical health, ability to breathe, and more. Research also shows that children do less well in school during allergy season, and exposure to pollen weakens the ability of your immune system to fight against respiratory diseases.

When should I start taking allergy medication?

There’s no point in waiting until you’re miserable to take allergy medication. In fact, allergists recommend starting medication a few weeks before allergy season hits, or at the latest, taking it as soon as you notice symptoms, says Dr. Parikh. Taking them early can stop an immune system panic before it happens, reducing the severity of symptoms, she adds. Check National Allergy Card to find out when to start taking medication based on where you live.

As for allergy medications to take, if you’re seriously stuffed, start with steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase or Rhinocort, which reduce inflammation-induced congestion, says Dr. Keet. And if you have itchy rashes, sneezing, and a runny nose, too, look for non-sedating antihistamines like Zyrtec, Xyzal, or Allegra, she adds.

Remember: While over-the-counter allergy medications repress symptoms, they don’t cure the problem, so they may be less effective if your allergies get worse, Dr. Parikh notes.

What else can I do to prepare for allergy season?

Even if you are already taking over-the-counter allergy medications, you may still experience symptoms. So what then?

Fortunately, there are a few other solutions. First, Dr. Ogden recommends seeing a board-certified allergist who can find out *exactly* what’s giving you trouble. “You have to take proactive steps,” she says, and the easiest way to reduce symptoms is to find out what’s causing them, so you can avoid them.

Once you know what the culprit is, don’t exercise outside or sleep with the windows open. Both can be tempting once the weather warms up, but “you need to isolate yourself from your allergens,” says Dr. Ogden, so enjoy indoors to reduce the risk of having a reaction.

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And try to eliminate allergens once you get home: take nightly showers, make sure to wash your hair, and wash your face to make sure nothing sticks to your eyelashes. “You just want to get rid of the pollen residue,” says Dr. Ogden. For added protection, consider investing in an air purifier for your bedroom.

If that doesn’t work, allergy shots, or allergen immunotherapy, can make your immune system less responsive to allergens. For some people, they can even induce healing, says Dr. Parikh. “By giving small, increasing doses of what you’re allergic to, you train the immune system to slowly stop being so allergic,” she says. “It’s the best way to treat allergies because it targets the underlying problem and boosts your immunity against a specific allergen.”

The wrong side? Allergy shots take a bit of time. You’ll need to get them once a week for six to eight months, then once a month for at least two years, says Dr. Parikh. You also need to be a little patient, as it can take around six months to start feeling better. So if you want protection by March, you’ll probably have to start in September of the previous year.

There are also tablets and drops that go under the tongue to help desensitize your body, adds Dr. Ogden. You’ll need to see a doctor to get a prescription, but once you take them, they can help fight several allergens. “Some believe that if you start these drops a few months before allergy season, you’ll feel the impact the following season,” she says.

How do I know if my symptoms are allergies or COVID-19?

Before you stress out, know that there’s a silver lining when it comes to allergens in 2022: “Masks mean less inhalation of pollen through the nose or mouth, and that can translate to fewer symptoms. for some people,” explains Manisha Relan, MD, Certified Allergist. Noted!

That said, if you’re worried about telling the difference between symptoms, whenever they occur, listen up. Commonly overlapping symptoms of COVID and allergies are headache, wheezing, and sore throat. It is also possible to experience nasal congestion, a runny nose and sneezing with COVID as well, although these are more often allergy symptoms. A dry cough, shortness of breath and loss of sense of smell are all likely symptoms of COVID-19, although it’s still possible that these are due to allergies.

Overall, though, if you’re having trouble telling whether your symptoms are allergies or COVID, your best bet is to get checked out at a doctor’s office or urgent care center.

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