It is common for people to be allergic to pollen, and to know that pollen irritates them. What is less well recognized is that there are a number of types of pollen, which peak at different times in the year and cause distinct symptoms for allergy sufferers. Having a precise understanding of the causes of one’s allergies can significantly increase the ability to manage symptoms, so learning the differences among allergens from various plants can be extremely useful for allergy sufferers.
A first step for allergy sufferers is to be tested for allergies to try to pinpoint which particular allergens irritate them. Once those allergens are identified, people can learn about when and where those allergens are likely to strike and take the necessary precautions to avoid exposure to those allergens. Below is some information on when different pollen types are likely to impact you. Because even allergy tests cannot always determine your particular allergies, paying attention to when you find yourself suffering from allergies can help you figure out what your immune system may be reacting to.
If you notice your allergies toward the beginning of the calendar year, you may be suffering from alder pollen, hazel pollen, or yew pollen, all of which are being released at the year’s start and lasting into April.
- Alder: Alder can be found in the air until almost May, peaking from early February to early April.
- Hazel: Hazel is around through mid April but peaks in February and early March.
- Yew: Like Hazel, Yew can be found through April, but it peaks just a bit later, starting toward the end of February and lasting until late March.
If your allergies begin early in the year, but not in January, elm pollen or willow pollen could be to blame.
- Elm: Elm is in the air from early February until almost May, peaking in March.
- Willow: The season for willow allergies is almost identical to that of elm, though willow may stay in the air into March and may peak a bit further into April than elm.
If you notice that your allergies do not start until March or later and tend to be “spring allergies,” one of the following pollen types could be causing your symptoms:
- Poplar: Poplar can be found from mid March into May but peaks for just a couple of weeks from mid-March to early April
- Ash: Ash is in the air from the start of March to almost the end of May, peaking in April and perhaps into the start of May.
- Birch: Sneezing and itchy eyes before June may indicate an allergy to birch pollen, a common allergen. Birch hits the air around the second week of March and does not leave until early June. Its levels peak from the end of March to mid-May.
- Plane: Plane peaks for about three weeks from the end of April to mid-May, though it is in the air starting in mid-March.
- Oak: Oak peaks between the end of April and early June but is around for all of April, May, and the first half of June.
One or more of the following plant types may plague those who find that their symptoms are particularly bad during summer months.
- Oilseed: Oilseed is around from the end of March to mid-July, peaking from mid-May to the end of June.
- Pine: Pine may be found in the air as early as April, but it is present into the summer, peaking in May and June.
- Grass: Grass is in the air all summer, from the start of May to the end of September and peaks throughout June and July.
- Lime: Lime does not usually hit the air until June, peaking during the bulk of the summer.
- Nettle: Nettle peaks around July, from the very end of June to the very beginning of August. However, it is in the air for all of May, June, July, August, in September.
If you notice that your nose is running all year long, you are likely allergic to something that is around longer than the pollens mentioned above. Pets, mites, mold, or dust could be the culprit. Mold allergies tend to be most noticeable in fall and spring, a big sign of mold allergies is that symptoms are worse indoors than outdoors. Similarly, dust allergies are worse indoors and tend to peak in the winter. Central heat can be a major contributor to dust allergies. One thing to be aware of is that your sniffling is likely not from a food allergy. Though about 30% of people believe they suffer from a food allergy, only about 3% of the population actually suffers from such allergies. Further, if an allergy occurs as a result of ingestion, symptoms are usually much different than those that occur with the allergens we have discussed here.