How to Deal With Spring Allergies: Allergy Tips for March, April, and May

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Do spring allergies creep up on you every year and make you miserable?

Are you eager to know how to get allergies under control?

For the millions of people worldwide who struggle with allergy symptoms, spring isn't much fun. When winter comes to an end, spring allergies rear their heads with the warming temperatures. It causes sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, and other symptoms that can ruin your quality of life.

Luckily, you don't need to surrender to the misery of seasonal allergies symptoms in spring.

In this article, we'll unpack what causes allergies in the spring and share tips for coping with allergies.

What causes allergies in the spring?

Airborne pollen is the culprit behind seasonal allergies – also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Springtime is pollen season. Trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds release small pollen grains into the environment, which spread with the help of the wind.

But what is the pathophysiology of spring allergies?

If you have allergies, your immune system overreacts to a harmless substance. When pollen enters your nasal passages, your body views it as something dangerous, which sets off an immune response. Believe it or not, a streaming nose and watery eyes mean your immune system is trying to protect you.

Keep your allergies in check with WeatherWell! Download our app for free to know when the pollen count is high

Your respiratory tract contains a large number of mast cells that release the inflammatory chemical histamine. It creates unpleasant symptoms in an attempt to flush allergens from your body.

So, what are spring allergy symptoms?

Most common spring allergies symptoms

When your immune system overreacts to allergens in the environment, it creates inflammation and respiratory symptoms.

The most common spring allergy symptoms are:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Bloodshot, watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy ears
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Headaches

Spring allergies can feel similar to a head cold or flu. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, they may cause mild irritation or make you feel extremely unwell. Unfortunately, allergy symptoms have a knock-on effect on your quality of life, productivity, focus, mood, and sleep.

A woman among flowers without spring allergy symptoms

But how do you know if you have spring allergies and not just a cold?

Allergy symptoms persist for longer than a cold and occur around the same time every year. In most cases, a cold is also accompanied by fever, while allergies are usually not. Allergies also worsen suddenly when you've been in contact with pollen.

How to find out whether you’re prone to spring allergies

You may be more likely to suffer from seasonal allergies if you already have an allergic condition – like eczema, asthma, food allergies, or an allergy to dust or pet dander. You're also prone to developing spring allergies if one or both of your parents have allergies.

To find out if you have a pollen allergy, your doctor can perform an allergy test. 

This may involve scratching a sample of the allergen into your skin to see if an immune reaction occurs.

Now that you know what causes allergies in the spring, what can you do about them?

Home remedies and lifestyle tips for spring allergies

If you're not coping with allergies, you've come to the right place!

At Weatherwell, we've compiled allergy tips for spring. Here's how to deal with spring allergies naturally:

1. Check the pollen count

Spring pollen levels fluctuate depending on the season, weather, and wind speed.

Luckily, websites and weather apps – like our Weatherwell app – can help you track the pollen count in your area. Being prepared for high pollen days allows you to take precautions and avoid triggering symptoms.

2. Minimize pollen exposure

One of the best spring allergies tips is to avoid or minimize exposure to pollen. Unfortunately, pesky pollen particles can stick to clothing, bedding, and carpets, making them hard to avoid.

Here’s how to reduce your pollen exposure in spring and summer:

  • Stay indoors and close the windows on windy and humid days – especially during the early morning when pollen is more concentrated in the air.
  • Change your clothes after getting home.
  • Wear a hat while being outdoors.
  • Shower and wash your hair at the end of the day.
  • Clean your home and office regularly.
  • Wash your clothes, towels, and bedding frequently.
  • Dry your clothes in a dryer instead of outdoors on a washing line.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn in spring when possible – ask a friend or family member to help you.
  • If you have an air-conditioner, trap pollen using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

A woman sitting in a chair to avoid spring allergies

3. Use a saline rinse for your sinuses

Rinsing out your sinuses might sound a little strange, but this remedy has been used for hundreds of years to reduce irritating spring allergy symptoms. It can thin mucus, clear congestion, and flush allergens from your nose. Plus, it's easy, inexpensive, and backed by research.

The easiest way to do a nasal rinse is using a perfectly shaped "neti pot":

  1. Fill your neti pot with a 1-2% saline solution using purified, cool water and pure sea salt.
  2. Lean over the sink and tilt your head to one side.
  3. Pour the solution into one nostril and let it run out the other.
  4. Do this on both sides and blow your nose to clear the remaining mucus.

A saline rinse is a complementary treatment for allergic rhinitis. We suggest doing this during an allergy attack and repeating it at least once per day during spring to keep allergies at bay.

4. Eat a colorful, antioxidant-rich diet

One of your best defenses against spring allergies is an antioxidant-rich diet. Antioxidants are nature's antihistamines! These compounds have potent anti-inflammatory properties, which help to dampen seasonal allergies.

Vitamin C and quercetin are two antioxidants studied for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Interestingly, research shows they may inhibit histamine production and relieve allergies.

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The best quercetin foods are red apples, tomatoes, grapes, shallots, onions, capers, peppers, berries, broccoli, and cauliflower. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, and sweet potatoes.

Make sure you fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables all year round, but especially around springtime.

5. Eat local, raw honey to relieve allergies

Honey has been an antidote to allergies throughout history. Local honey – in its raw state – should contain a small amount of pollen picked up by wild bees from your area. By introducing it to your body over time, your immune system may build up a tolerance to pollen. Honey is also a great source of immune-supportive minerals and enzymes.

A 2013 study found that eating honey helped people with birch pollen allergies. However, these results haven’t been replicated in other research. But honey does have anti-inflammatory properties, so you can add it to tea, coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods.

Spring allergies treatment: over-the-counter and prescription medications

If your allergies feel overwhelming, medication may help you find relief.

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications that dampen your immune response to allergens and provide symptomatic relief. If OTC drugs don't provide enough relief, your doctor or allergist can offer you prescription medication. A treatment plan using one or a combination of medicines can improve your quality of life, especially when taken just before allergy season starts.

Some of the most common medications used in spring allergies treatment are:

  • Antihistamines. They are some of the most common allergy medications available OTC and on a prescription. Antihistamines block the production of the inflammatory histamine to stop sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. They're available in tablet, nasal spray, and eye drop form. Ideally, ask your pharmacist for a non-sedating antihistamine.
  • Decongestants. Nasal decongestants can help you breathe more easily by shrinking blood vessels in your nose and clearing congestion. They're fast-acting and typically come as a pill or nasal spray. But avoid using them for longer than 7 days.
  • Nasal corticosteroids. Corticosteroids suppress your hyperactive immune response to relieve inflammation in your nasal passages, helping you breathe.
  • Eye drops. These may help you focus by relieving red, watery, and itchy eyes.
If lifestyle changes and medication don't work for you, another treatment option is immunotherapy. 

This is a long-term treatment administered by a doctor. It works by introducing a tiny amount of an allergen to your system – via an injection or liquid – and building the dose up over time to desensitize your immune system. Your immune system builds up a tolerance to the allergen and, eventually, stops overreacting. Unfortunately, it may take months or years to see results.

Keep in mind that both OTC and prescription medications may cause rebound allergy symptoms and other side effects when used long-term. So, always discuss this with your doctor before deciding if it's right for you.

Final thoughts

With global warming on the rise, you may feel like your spring allergies get more severe and last longer each year.

Luckily, this doesn't have to be your fate forever. With our spring allergy tips, you now know how to get allergies under control so you can enjoy the warmer spring weather with no problem.

Take note: Please speak to your doctor before starting a new supplement or medication. Contact your allergist if your allergy symptoms persist or worsen despite trying lifestyle changes and medication.

July 21, 2022