Seasonal allergies are here for spring 2024. What to know about symptoms and pollen count (2024)

HealthWatch

By Sara Moniuszko

Edited By Paula Cohen

/ CBS News

If your sinuses haven't already alerted you, allergy season is upon us — and it's earlier and stronger than expected.

Spring weather is spreading quickly across the central part of the country, according to theUSA National Phenology Network, which tracks climate and seasonal changes and data. Compared to long-term average from 1991 to 2020, Denver is 6 days early, Chicago is 15 days early and Detroit is 23 days early, the network says.

The same was true forlast year's allergy season, when several regions of the U.S. experienced springtime conditions weeks early, forcing spring allergy sufferers to deal with symptoms sooner and longer than usual.

Researchers predict these aren't outlier years, pointing to climate change as responsible for worsening allergy season.

This past winter was the warmest on record across the continental U.S. Fewer days below freezing meant plants were able to bloom earlier and longer.

"Pollen seasons are starting earlier and getting worse with more pollen in the air," William Anderegg, associate professor at the University of Utah, told CBS News, pointing to heat as "one of the biggest drivers."

Between 1990 and 2018, there was a 21% increase in pollen, according to a recent study authored by Anderegg.

Here's what else to know about pollen season this year:

Pollen count for spring 2024

Dr. Rachna Shah, an allergist and director of theLoyola Medicine Allergy Count, toldthe Associated Press she usually starts looking at pollen counts in the Chicago area in April. But she peeked at her data in mid-February and saw tree pollen was already at a "moderate" level.

"This season has been so nuts," Shah said. "Granted, it was a pretty mild winter, but I didn't expect it to be so early."

Do certain cities have it worse?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's annual ranking, the top five most challenging cities to live in if you have allergies this year are: Wichita, Kansas; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Greenville, South Carolina; Dallas; and Oklahoma City.

This is based on over-the-counter medicine use, pollen counts and the number of available allergy specialists.

For years, allergy sufferers have monitored peak pollen count times as a way to help manage their exposure, but scientists in the U.K. say they've found a better way to measure exactly what makes people's eyes water and noses drip — by measuring and reporting the levels of airborne grass allergens, instead of the pollen particles that carry the tiny offenders.

"The pollen counts, they're good, and they can be associated with health outcomes, but once you account for the allergen levels, it's clear from the study that we did that it's the allergen levels that count," Dr. Elaine Fuertes of Imperial College London, who helped author a study on these findings, told CBS News. "Knowing when the allergen levels themselves are going to be high can help people stay indoors when they need to, maybe take showers when they get home to rinse off some of the allergen they might have been exposed to."

No country in the world currently tracks allergen levels, as it's expensive and time consuming, but Fuertes said the researchers believe "if you could incorporate regular monitoring of allergen levels, the forecasting would get better."

Where does pollen come from?

Pollen is released by trees, grasses and weeds, explains Dr. Neil Parikh, allergist and immunologist with Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group.

"So those are found outside the home, but that pollen can also come inside the home," he toldCBS News Sacramento. "Understand that when you go outside and you breathe in that air, you're exposed to the pollen. So the longer it stays on your body, in your nose and your eyes and your sinuses, the more likely you're going to react and feel bad from them."

For that reason, if you're outside with high pollen and suffer from allergies, Parikh suggests a few steps after coming inside, including taking a shower, changing your clothes and doing a sinus rinse with saline water.

HEPA air purifiers can also help remove the pollen that comes from outside to inside your home, he says.

Can seasonal allergies cause fever, coughing, headaches, sore throat?

There are several allergy symptoms to be aware of, Parikh says, including:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Coughing

TheCleveland Clinic says allergies can cause a sore throat due to postnasal drip, which is when discharge from your nose runs down the back of your throat.

Allergens can also cause sinus headache even if you have no other allergy symptoms, according to theAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.This is caused by swelling in the sinuses that blocks the openings, prevents drainage and causes pressure to build up.

Fever, however, is not a symptom of allergies.

"If you're experiencing a runny or stuffy nose and a fever, you may have a sinus infection. Sinus infections are caused by bacteria or viruses, not by allergies," the association notes.

-Ian Lee and Tina Kraus contributed reporting.

    In:
  • Allergies

Sara Moniuszko

Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at CBSNews.com. Previously, she wrote for USA Today, where she was selected to help launch the newspaper's wellness vertical. She now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch.

Seasonal allergies are here for spring 2024. What to know about symptoms and pollen count (2024)

FAQs

Will 2024 be a bad allergy season? ›

What to know about symptoms and pollen count. If your sinuses haven't already alerted you, allergy season is upon us — and it's earlier and stronger than expected.

What are the symptoms of spring allergies? ›

Spring Allergy Symptoms

Spring allergens, like tree and grass pollens, can trigger allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, swollen mucous membranes, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes.

What are pollen allergy symptoms? ›

People with a pollen allergy may have the following symptoms:
  • Runny nose.
  • Stuffy nose or nasal congestion.
  • Sneezing.
  • Puffiness or swelling around your eyes.
  • Red or watery eyes.
  • Itchiness in your throat, eyes or nose.
  • Cough or sore throat.
  • Allergic asthma, which is when pollen makes your asthma worsen.

Where is the highest pollen count in the US in 2024? ›

Earlier this year, the AAFA released a list of the 2024 Allergy Capitals in the U.S. naming Wichita, Kansas the worst city for allergy sufferers.

What are the worst months for seasonal allergies? ›

Spring and fall are generally the worst months for allergies, as tree, grass, and weed pollens are prevalent. Winter and late summer or early fall can offer some relief, with reduced levels of certain allergens. Allergens vary by state and are influenced by climate, regional flora, and environmental conditions.

What does allergy fatigue feel like? ›

Allergy fatigue, a common complaint among people with allergies, is an intense sense of tiredness and lack of energy often associated with the body's reaction to allergens. This feeling of exhaustion is not merely a result of poor sleep quality due to common allergy symptoms.

Why are my allergies so bad right now? ›

Let's see why your allergies may be acting up more than usual. Environmental triggers. Environmental factors play an important role in allergy symptoms. Increased pollution, air quality changes and outdoor allergens such as pollen and mold spores can create a perfect storm for heightened allergic responses.

Can allergies make you feel sick and achy? ›

Summary. Seasonal allergies can lead to body aches along with more common symptoms, including watery eyes, a runny nose, and coughing and sneezing. That's because muscle aches and joint pain are part of the body's immune response to inflammation caused by your allergies.

What time of day is pollen worst? ›

When Is The Pollen Count Low? On an average day, pollen counts rise during the morning, peak about midday, and then gradually fall. So the lowest pollen counts are usually before dawn and in the late afternoon to early evening.

How do you feel when the pollen is high? ›

Runny nose (also known as rhinorrhea – this is typically a clear, thin nasal discharge) Stuffy nose (due to blockage or nasal congestion – one of the most common and troublesome symptoms) Sneezing. Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth.

What foods to avoid if you have pollen allergies? ›

For instance, if you are allergic to grass pollens, you should avoid oranges, tomatoes, melons, and figs. If you're allergy is to weed pollens, then try avoiding bananas, zucchinis and cucumbers, melons, artichokes, and echinacea, chamomile, and hibiscus teas.

Do allergies get worse with age? ›

Older adults tend to have more chronic conditions and experience a decline in the functioning of several organs, both of which can heighten an allergic response. Aging can potentially worsen any allergy, including hypersensitivities to food, medications, insect bites, and pollen.

What are the 4 stages of allergies? ›

What Are The 4 Types of Allergic Reactions?
  • Immediate (type I) Symptoms appear after a few seconds to minutes. ...
  • Cytotoxic (type II) Symptoms appear after minutes to hours. ...
  • Immune complex-mediated (type III) Symptoms set in after several hours. ...
  • Delayed hypersensitivity (type IV) Symptoms set in hours to days later.

What's the best seasonal allergy medicine? ›

Nasal steroids, such as Flonase (fluticasone propionate), are generally the most effective allergy medicines but can take up to 2 weeks to fully work.

What is the future of allergies? ›

Immunotherapies such as Palforzia and biologics like Omalizumab are at the forefront, offering new hope for mitigating allergic reactions. Diagnostic advancements and digital health solutions are enhancing personalized care, while AI and ML contribute to a deeper understanding and prediction of allergy patterns.

Why is this year so bad for allergies? ›

Scientists have reported that warming temperatures and other environmental factors have made seasonal allergens such as tree pollen, mold, and other spores worse over the past several decades.

What is triggering my allergies this time of year? ›

During the spring, Northern and Southern Californians are typically hit the hardest by springtime tree allergies. Birch, elm, cedar, cypress, pine, and olive trees are common triggers in the northern part of the state. Down south, ash, oak, sycamore, walnut, and mulberry can be the most triggering.

How climate change is changing the allergy season? ›

Warmer temperatures and increased carbon dioxide concentrations also enable ragweed and other plants to produce more allergenic pollen, in larger quantities. This means that many locations could experience longer allergy seasons and higher pollen counts as a result of climate change.

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