Seasonal Allergies vs Year-Round Allergies: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and How To Get Relief
Seasonal allergies can cause symptoms at specific times of the year if you have an allergy to certain pollen spores in the air. Commonly referred to as “hay fever”, they differ from so-called perennial allergies – where symptoms can occur all year-round1.
Plants release their pollen at different times, so depending on which type triggers your reaction you may only experience symptoms for one or two months annually.
Learn about seasonal allergies, when you’re most likely to be affected, and how to manage your allergy symptoms – so you can enjoy your day to day, indoors and out.
When is Allergy Season?
Allergy season can mean different things to different people. Generally, it depends on when the type of pollen or irritant that causes your immune system to react is in the air2.
If you’re allergic to just one irritant, you may only experience allergy season for the same few weeks or months every year. However, should your symptoms be triggered by a few different allergens, then you might find yourself affected for two or more seasons.
In short, all four seasons can be “allergy season”, depending on your triggers.
Spring Allergy Season
Warmer weather following the winter might be a welcome change, but remember to make sure you’re prepared for spring’s biggest outdoor allergy trigger – tree pollen! The first big seasonal allergen to hit the air, it is probably the most infamous, but other potential causes of spring allergies can include types of grass and weed pollen – such as orchard, saltgrass and fescue – that become more widespread3.
On breezy days especially, your spring allergies may intensify as the wind carries this pollen through the air much easier. Stay on top of daily pollen counts so you know which trees – cedar, maple, or pine, for example – might cause you to sneeze and sniffle during spring
Summer Allergy Season
Summer is all about outdoor fun – but you’ll want to make sure you can enjoy it without an allergy flaring up. Many things in nature are pollinating during this season, but the major trigger of summer allergies is grass pollen. Plan ahead and avoid cutting the lawn on days you’ll be entertaining, throwing a BBQ or relaxing outdoors – as this will scatter the grass and pollen around.
Hot and humid weather also creates the prime environment for mold to grow, which can be another trigger for allergies in general. From July to early fall, allergic symptoms from fungus spores can be most common – growing on grasses, grains, logs and compost piles4.
Fall Allergy Season
While the crisp air might feel nice, fall allergies can often be triggered by weed pollen. Ragweed, a common allergen, grows just about anywhere – but even if you don’t live near any, its pollen can travel for miles with the wind and trigger your symptoms5.
Mold can also be an issue, as it can develop on both wet soil and fallen leaves. As we start to spend more time indoors when the weather cools, turning on heating can stir dust mites into the air for the first time too – another common year-round cause of allergies6.
If your allergies are severe, try keeping windows and doors shut at home and in your car.
Winter Allergy Season
During winter, outdoor pollen levels are lower than usual. However, some people are affected by indoor allergies which can be triggered by mold, dust mites, pets, and Christmas trees7. These allergies are year-round, or “perennial”, but may be experienced more often in winter – as we generally spend more time inside when it’s cold.
Exposure to our pets increases as they spend more time indoors, which in turn can trigger an immune system reaction if you’re allergic to pet dander. Running a humidifier at 50% humidity or higher can also encourage dust mite growth7. Help keep indoor allergies at bay by vacuuming more often or running a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
The seasonal allergy symptoms you experience may vary depending on the specific allergen that triggers your immune system, and the severity of your allergies. It’s not always easy to identify whether your symptoms are related to a seasonal allergy or another condition, but common signs can include2:
- Congestion and nasal stuffiness
- Itchy throat, nose and eyes
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Sinus pressure around the nose and cheeks
- Sore throat aggravated by mucus
How to Help Relieve and Treat Your Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
While you can’t prevent seasonal allergies altogether, you can reduce your exposure to allergens and the impact of them.
Some the easiest lifestyle solutions for seasonal allergies involve trying to avoid your triggers, whatever the time of year. A few ways you might be able to do this include8:
- Staying inside on dry, windy days when the pollen count may be high
- Washing clothes and showering after being outside, to rinse off allergens
- Closing doors and windows at night
- Using air conditioning at home and in your car – a HEPA filter can help
There are also various over-the-counter, non-prescription medications that might help ease your symptoms8. Treatments you can try to provide seasonal allergy relief can include9,10:
- Antihistamines – medications such as the active ingredient cetirizine, which is used to block or reduce histamines that cause symptoms.
- Decongestants – these can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness, and are often available as tablets, liquids or nasal sprays
- Combination medications – certain types of allergy medication combine antihistamines and decongestants to relieve more symptoms at once, such as ZYRTEC-D®
- Immunotherapy – a seasonal allergy shot that aims to help your body develop immunity or tolerance to the allergen
- Nasal corticosteroids – these nasal sprays work to reduce inflammation and allergy symptoms
If you have questions about the best way to relieve your worst allergy symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Why do I suddenly have seasonal allergies?
Even as an adult, you can lose tolerance to certain triggers and develop symptoms when exposed to them – such as types of pollen, mold and pet dander11. If you’ve moved to a new area where a different pollen is more typical, for example, you could start to experience seasonal allergies.
Why do my allergies get bad at night?
Dust mites and mold can be more frequent in your bedroom – as they like warm, indoor environments. If either of these is the cause of your allergies, then it can make your reaction worse when you sleep.
How long do pollen allergies last?
It depends on the type of pollen that triggers your allergies12:
- Tree pollen – usually lasts from March until mid-May
- Grass pollen – usually lasts from Mid-May to mid-July
- Weed pollen – usually lasts Mid-August until November
But your location will affect this.
The weather can also affect pollen levels, which can delay or extend how long pollen allergies last each year12.
Find Seasonal Allergy Relief
Need a little help with your allergies? ZYRTEC® relieves your worst allergy symptoms, whether they’re from seasonal or year-round allergies. ZYRTEC® starts working at hour 1 and stays strong day after day. Learn more about the ZYRTEC® family of products.