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When Do Spring Allergies Begin?

March 28, 2024

Girl with allergies using a tissue

It might be hard to appreciate the blooming trees and flowers of springtime if you have seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, allergies can affect anyone and up to 20% of Americans suffer the seasonal congestion, sneezing and itchy eyes these allergies can bring.

Allergy specialists can help people with severe allergies manage their symptoms, but most people with allergies can get ahead of the season with some simple steps. Karen Ziemke, MD, an allergy and immunology specialist with Atlantic Health System, shares when to expect the first wave of symptoms – and how to prepare for them to stay feeling your best.

The Start of Allergy Season

The start of each person’s seasonal allergies depends on what they are allergic to. In New Jersey, common trees that cause symptoms are birch, oak and maple. Birch trees typically pollinate March through April, oak April through May and maple from March through May. As a result, Dr. Ziemke typically sees a rise in spring allergies starting in March. Tree pollen typically peaks toward the end of April into the first few weeks of May and the season can extend into June. There is often overlap with grass pollen season starting in May.

Some patients can begin having symptoms as early as February, when cedar and juniper trees start to pollinate.

People with allergies may experience unpleasant symptoms like:

  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Nasal congestion and stuffiness
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

People with severe symptoms might experience headaches, sinus pressure or trouble sleeping.

How to Prepare for Spring Allergies

For people who know they have spring allergies, the best way to prepare for them and minimize symptoms is to start taking medications before the season begins. Preventing symptoms, rather than waiting to treat them after they start, will lead to a much more comfortable season. People with allergies should start taking medication several weeks prior to the onset of the allergy season and continue through May or June.

Some patients can control their allergy symptoms with oral antihistamines, but others may need a combination of medications to manage them. Some allergy medications are available over the counter, and many treat the specific area of your symptoms, such as the eyes or nose. These include:

  • Antihistamine eye drops
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays
  • Steroid nasal sprays

“Many people have symptom control with just an oral antihistamine, but if your symptoms are persistent and cause disruption of sleep and functioning, it’s a good idea to see an allergist,” says Dr. Ziemke. “Some people may experience chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, which can indicate that asthma is also present. These patients need to see their provider to manage these symptoms.”

  • Allergy