You’ve probably heard of the polar vortex. Now it’s time to face the “pollen vortex” during Summer Allergy Season.Thanks to an unseasonably cold (and long) winter, experts are predicting that this year’s allergy season could be one of the worst yet. That means symptoms could go strong from spring into summer, leaving many of the country’s 45 million nasal-allergy sufferers grabbing for the tissues and antihistamines.
Here’s what happened. Through the cold weather, trees had to wait longer to release their pollen. Then, boom. When warmer temps did arrive, more pollen hit the air at once. That’s kicked off the “pollen vortex,” a sudden onset of allergy symptoms, especially for people in the Northeast and Southeast, where conditions are ripe for tree pollens and mold to wreak havoc.
To make matters worse, the late start to spring and the late pollen release mean we’re less likely to see “breaks” between the three allergy mini seasons that occur each year.
In a typical allergy season, we see patients fighting tree-pollen allergies in spring, grass allergies from late spring to summer, and ragweed allergies in summer and early fall. Because trees held onto pollen longer, the entire allergy calendar has been condensed, meaning allergy sufferers could go straight from one type of flare-up to another.
Summer temps and rainfall levels will have a big impact on mid-year allergy attacks. Although rainfall and moisture can eliminate some pollen in the air, too much moisture can make mold allergies worse. And if this summer is dry, increased dust levels can bump up the air pollution.
No matter what the summer season brings, these tips can help minimize symptoms
Watch pollen counts. On days when pollen is high, try to minimize your time outside. Pollen is typically worst between 5 to 10 a.m., so schedule accordingly, if possible.
- Keep clothes and shoes safe. After being outside, change your clothes and leave your shoes at the door to avoid spreading allergens within your home. Showering also helps remove allergens.
- Try nasal sprays or antihistamines. Your doctor can recommend specific medicine(s) to tackle the allergens that affect you most. Don’t try taking everything you see advertised: A good, personalized consultation can give reveal a regimen that’s right for you, without extra meds.
- Clean house. Frequently vacuuming, wiping down surfaces and changing your air filters can help keep allergens at bay.
- Wash Fido. Animals carry allergens too, so be sure to regularly wash and groom your family pets.
- Destress. Studies show that when people feel higher stress levels, they tend to have more allergy attacks. Do what you can to stay calm.
Schedule an appointment if you’d like a thorough analysis of your allergies…and advice for combating symptoms. These days, the typical allergy season is about two to four weeks longer than in previous years, so it looks like the itchy eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats won’t be going away on their own.