May is a month of transition when warmer weather begins and flowers start to bloom. For some people, it’s a perfect month to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.
Unfortunately, May also is a time for seasonal allergies for many other people. If you're one of the millions of people suffering from environmental allergies, you know how uncomfortable they can be.
What Causes May Allergy Season?
If your allergies flare up as soon as the warmer weather comes in, you probably have seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. These allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to allergens in the outdoor environment, usually pollen.
If you are allergic to tree pollen you will likely experience May allergies because this month is part of the tree pollen season, which usually begins in February and ends in May. Some grass species may also start releasing pollen in May, which can also trigger allergies.
Tree Pollen Allergies
During spring, most trees release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants of the same species. This process is essential for the reproduction of these plants, but it can cause allergies if you are sensitive to tree pollen.
Some tree allergies may be more severe in your area than others. So, it’s important to know which tree triggers your allergies to help minimize exposure.
While most tree species release pollen in the spring, not all have allergenic pollen. Some of the common types of tree pollen that can cause seasonal allergies in the spring include:
Remember, you can still be exposed to tree pollen even if there are no such trees around where you live. Pollen grains are very light and can be carried long distances by the wind. This makes it difficult to avoid exposure to tree pollen altogether.
Grass Pollen Allergies
Most grass species release pollen into the air during the late spring and throughout the summer. Although the grass allergy season begins in the late spring, it usually peaks in the summer when the weather is warmer.
Some of the common types of grass that cause allergies include:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Sweet vernal
- Tall fescue
You will be more exposed to grass pollen if you live in an area with grass species that cause allergies. However, grass pollen is light and will travel miles through the air. So don’t be surprised if your allergy symptoms are triggered by species that aren't in your immediate area.
What Are Common Spring Allergy Symptoms?
When you're allergic to tree and grass pollen, you can experience uncomfortable symptoms that can make you dread the spring and the upcoming summer. Allergy symptoms in May look like the allergy symptoms during any other point of the year.
Here are some common spring allergy symptoms:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- A runny nose
- Post nasal drip
- Itchy nose, throat, and roof of the mouth
- Swelling around the eyes or dark under-eye circles
How Are Spring Allergies Diagnosed?
If you think you might be experiencing allergy symptoms, it’s important to get tested. Doing so will give you a confirmed diagnosis and help you find long-term allergy relief. Testing can be done through a skin prick test or an at-home allergy test.
Skin Prick Test
The standard approach to diagnosis is the skin prick test. This method has been used for decades. As the name suggests, it involves pricking the skin with a fine needle on your forearm or back. Each needle is then tipped with different allergens and you can even test multiple allergens at once.
Once you’ve been pricked, doctors will wait to observe how the immune system reacts. If you have an allergy, the area around the needle will become red, itchy, and inflamed within 15-20 minutes.
Despite being the standard, there are some downsides to this test. First off, it can be highly uncomfortable. No one likes getting poked with needles or experiencing a negative reaction. Secondly, the test can be inaccessible and expensive. This is because you can usually only do this in person at the office of a certified allergist or immunologist.
At-Home Allergy Test
If you're looking for a more convenient, comfortable, and affordable option, an at-home allergy test kit might be right for you.
Here's what getting one involves:
- Get a Wyndly at-home test. We ship our CLIA-certified test straight to your door.
- Take the allergy test and return it via mail. You take an easy finger-prick test and return your sample in the provided box.
- Receive your personal allergy profile. Our doctors interpret your allergy profile for you and create a personalized treatment plan.
How to Prepare for Pollen Season?
Once spring is looming, it's important to take steps to prepare for the upcoming allergy season. Simple habits like showering or cleaning more frequently can go a long way. Adopting such habits will help you to minimize your symptoms and make the most of the warmer months.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Keep windows closed and use A/C: Pollen travels through the air with ease. Ensure it doesn't float its way into your house by keeping windows closed and running the A/C. You’ll also want to think about equipping your A/C with a HEPA filter to further purify the air inside your home.
- Check pollen counts: Before heading outdoors, look at the local pollen count. If it's high, wear a dust mask or sunglasses to protect yourself from exposure.
- Shower after being outside: Pollen can cling to your hair and skin after being outside. To avoid bringing it into your home, take a shower as soon as you come inside.
- Wash clothes: Because pollen can stay on fabric, it's important to wash your clothes after spending time outside. So, be sure to toss clothes in the wash as soon as you can.
- Take your shoes off when you come inside: Pollen can also accumulate on your shoes. To avoid tracking it throughout your home, take them off as soon as you come inside.
- Wipe pets down: When your pet goes outside, they can be exposed to pollen and bring it back in with them. To avoid spreading it, wipe your pet down with a wet cloth when they come back inside. Giving them more baths during the allergy season can also be helpful.
How to Treat Seasonal Allergies in May?
Limiting exposure can be a great way to limit your chances of experiencing allergies. However, at some point, you will come into contact with your trigger substance. it's important to have an effective treatment plan in place in addition to taking measures to reduce exposure.
Over-the-counter medications are an accessible and affordable way to temporarily manage mild to moderate allergy symptoms.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines work by blocking temporarily histamine, a chemical that your body releases in response to an allergic trigger. This relieves symptoms like itchiness, sneezing, and a runny nose.
- Eye drops: If you tend to experience red, watery, or itchy eyes with allergies, then eye drops can provide you with short-term relief from these symptoms.
- Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays clear pollen and other allergens from your nasal passages and reduce inflammation. This relieves symptoms like congestion.
If over-the-counter options aren’t working, or you want a long-term solution, sublingual immunotherapy might be right for you.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a type of allergy treatment that results in long-term relief from your symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy involves placing drops or tablets of an allergen extract under your tongue daily. Over time, your immune system becomes desensitized and you stop reacting when exposed to allergens.
SLIT is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional allergy shots. It's just as effective, less invasive, and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
Spring allergies are no fun for anyone, but you don’t have to put up with them. If you're looking for a long-term solution, sublingual immunotherapy could be the answer. Wyndly's allergy assessment can help you figure out if this treatment option is right for you.
Take our quick survey today to get one step closer to an allergy-free life!