8 Worst Spring Allergy Triggers (and How to Avoid Them) Spring Allergy Triggers: Knowledge and Prevention
- Pollen is the most common trigger for spring allergies. If you’re a spring allergy sufferer, inhaling your allergy triggers puts your body’s defense system on alert. Once it detects the pollen, your immune system interprets it as dangerous and, in response, sends antibodies to attack it. This releases compounds called histamines that trigger symptoms like sneezing, itchy or swollen eyes, and congestion. Thankfully, with an increased awareness of eight common triggers, you can prevent springtime allergy attacks from happening.
- 1. Tree Pollination Tree pollination begins earliest in the season, so if you tend to experience allergy symptoms just as the seasons change, then blooming trees may be the culprit. Birch, cedar, and oak trees are common allergy triggers, as they release pollen that causes highly allergic reactions. Some people are allergic to olive trees, which also bloom just as the weather begins to warm. Getting an allergy test from your doctor can reveal which specific trees are your triggers, and then you can avoid them when possible and take allergy medication beforehand when you can’t.
- 2. Grass and Weed Pollination
After trees bloom, grass and weeds begin releasing their tiny grains of pollen into the air—usually a bit later in spring and into the summer. (Although if you live in a tropical climate, grass pollinates over a longer period of time.) Ragweed is the most common cause of weed allergies, along with tumbleweed, lamb’s quarters, sagebrush, and pigweed. Do some research to see if these plants are common in your area. If so, and if your allergies tend to hit in late spring, avoiding these during this time may prevent your springtime allergy symptoms from setting in.
- 3. Mold
In addition to pollen, mold is another springtime allergy trigger that can spark allergy symptoms. Mold growth happens in the spring, or when the combination of rain and warm temperatures create optimal conditions for it to grow and multiply in certain areas of your home. This is especially true if you live somewhere with high humidity. Be vigilant about wiping up moisture that gathers in such places as around windows, in bathrooms, and in enclosed spaces like attics. If you do notice mold accumulating, immediately spray the area with a combination of water and white vinegar to treat it.
- 4. After the Rain
Although rain washes away pollen, pollen count levels can skyrocket following a rainfall. Rain promotes plant growth—and therefore pollen growth—and when it comes with wind, this stirs up allergy triggers in the air, which can intensify symptoms as the weather dries up. Pollen count refers to the concentration of pollen in the air. Sometimes these online reports will also include details about the specific types of pollen present. This is important if you know which pollens are an allergy trigger for you and what levels are considered high or very high.
- 5. Pollen Buildup
By the end of the day, even if you’ve managed to avoid going near your springtime allergy triggers, pollen will still likely have built up in your hair and on your clothes and skin. To remove it, and avoid experiencing spring allergy symptoms into the night and indoors, wash your hair (or your child's hair) before going to bed to remove pollen from your head—and skin—and ensure it stays out of your bed.
- 6. Time of Day
Even though the air can seem heavier toward the end of the day, the pollen count tends to peak in the earlier hours in later spring. While during grass and tree season—earlier in the season—levels tend to be highest in the evening. This means that throughout the season, it’s smart to keep an eye on pollen counts throughout the day. Opt to take your workouts inside when pollen counts are high, even if it’s first thing in the morning when the air seems fresh.
- 7. Letting in Pollen
Even if your windows are screened, they won’t prevent pollen particles from floating indoors. It’s also nearly impossible to prevent pets from bringing pollen into your living space. To keep allergy triggers outside as best as possible, be vigilant about keeping doors and windows shut during spring allergy season. Keep an eye on shelves, vents, and windowsills—where pollen that makes its way in can accumulate and aggravate your allergies—and ensure that they remain dust-free. If springtime allergies are following you or your pet inside, using an air purifier in your home may help, along with a central air conditioning system with an asthma and allergy filter.
- 8. Vacuuming
Unfortunately, while keeping your floors and carpets free of allergy triggers is an important part of combating spring allergy symptoms, vacuuming tends to stir up the pollen, mold, and dust that aggravate allergies. To make vacuuming minimally uncomfortable, first try to get someone else—a non-allergy sufferer—to do it. If that’s not an option, wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask to protect yourself from the particles being stirred up and put on a pair of gloves too, to keep the dust off your hands.
- Know Your Triggers
Visiting your doctor for an allergy test will provide useful information, particularly if general preventive measures aren’t alleviating your symptoms. Doctors generally use two different tests to diagnose an allergy:
- Skin prick test: A small drop of potential allergens are placed on your skin and then lightly pricked. If you’re allergic to the substance, your skin will become red, swollen and itchy within about 20 minutes.
- Specific IgE blood test: A sample of your blood is sent to a testing lab where a technician adds potential allergens to your blood and measures the amount of antibodies your blood produces in response.