There are plenty of things to love about spring: Longer days, flowers in bloom, finally ditching your winter coat — but allergies isn’t one of them. “Tree pollen, which is what predominately causes allergies in the spring months, typically starts mid to late March and ends in late May or early June,” says Dr. Anastasiya Kleva, MD, at ENT & Allergy Associates. “If we have a long winter like we did last year, the spring allergy season will start much later.”
So exactly how bad will allergies be this spring? That’s the million dollar question everyone who gets even the slightest sniffle at the first sign of the season is asking. But unfortunately, there is no precise answer. “To be honest, it’s like predicting the weather,” Kleva says. “There is no accurate way to tell what the season will look like. It all depends on when the winter ends, and how warm our spring season will be. Last year we had cold temperatures and snow almost into May, so we ended up with a short, but intense pollen season. It’s like predicting how bad a snow storm will be. Our meteorologists can only tell us accurately what the next few days of weather will look like, so I cannot honestly guess what the pollen season has in store for us this year.”
However, Kleva is betting that spring allergy season is around the corner and will start earlier this year. Climate change also has an effect. “Rising temperatures lead to increased growth of plants, an earlier start and longer duration of the spring allergy season, which translates to a more miserable time for allergy sufferers,” Kleva says.
While we can’t say exactly how bad allergies will be, we can help you out with minimizing the symptoms. A little prep work goes a long way. “Start taking your antihistamine, and more importantly your steroid nasal spray, early in the season,” advises Kleva. “Steroid nasal sprays are very helpful for allergies if started at least two weeks before the season really kicks in.” If you are suffering from symptoms, be sure to keep your windows closed through the spring season. After you’ve been outdoors for a long period of time, change your clothes and shower, then rinse your nose with a neti pot after coming inside to reduce allergy symptoms. Use a daily antihistamine, and be take your steroid nasal spray daily — not as needed. “Allergy medication can help with allergies in those with mild to moderate symptoms, but the best therapy for those with very severe allergies are allergy shots,” Kleva says. “It is the only potentially curative and long term treatment out there.”