When does oak pollen allergy season start? Treating and preventing oak pollen allergy symptoms.
Vivid colors are making their way back into landscapes across the United States, signaling the return of spring and summer. But sunnier days don’t mean clear skies; allergy sufferers across the country know it can be difficult to fully appreciate all that nature has to offer. Sadly, temperate weather also welcomes a harsh reality of itchy eyes, runny noses, and allergic rhinitis symptoms for up to 20% of the population[*].
Comprising about 450 species worldwide, and with about 60 species native to the United States, the presence of oak trees is significant[*], and the distribution of their pollen is widespread across regions. Often easily identified by their round shape, broad crown, and greenish-brown tassels that leave a mess outdoors, this common allergen can be a pain to live with when it flowers and produces pollen in the spring.
When are oak allergies the worst?
Oak allergy season aligns with other tree-related seasonal allergies, generally beginning in spring and summer. While trees produce the most pollen from March to May, tree pollen allergy season in southern regions can start as early as January, with multiple peaks throughout the year.
Even worse, tree pollen allergy season often overlaps with grass and weed pollen allergies, which peak from right before spring and carry on through the fall. As a whole, pollen season in the United States spans the majority of the year. Here’s when you can typically expect your particular allergies to flare up, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America[*]:
- Tree Pollen: February to May
- Grass Pollen: April to June
- Weed Pollen: August to November
The impact of climate change continues to make a distinct mark on allergy season. The rise in global temperatures and extreme weather events have led to longer growing seasons and increased pollen levels[*]. As a result, the pollen season today is about 20 days longer than it was 30 years ago, with pollen concentrations elevated by 21%[*].
What are the symptoms of oak pollen allergy?
While every allergy sufferer is different, nasal symptoms are a common sign of a tree pollen allergy. If you suspect a seasonal allergy, pay close attention to the frequency and length of symptoms including:
- Red, itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Intensified symptoms for asthma sufferers
Though inflammation in the nose—or rhinitis—affects up to 40% of the population[*], severe cases can significantly impair your work performance, sleep quality, and daily life. The first step to getting effective treatment is becoming aware of the triggers.
How do I treat oak pollen allergy symptoms?
Effectively relieving nasal allergy symptoms relies on minimizing contact with allergens and treating symptoms. While allergy testing, prescription treatments, and immunotherapy can be administered by a healthcare practitioner, there are quite a few practices you can adopt to manage your symptoms at home.
Check your local pollen counts.
Take preventative care by checking the pollen numbers on a regular basis and limiting the time you spend outside when counts are high.
Keep windows and doors closed.
Particularly on peak pollen days, opt for air conditioning to deal with the heat. Change your home’s air filters regularly and opt for allergy and asthma approved or HEPA certified air filters.
Cover your eyes, nose and mouth.
When you go outside, wear clothing and accessories that keep pollen out of your respiratory system and home. Sunglasses, masks, and hats all make great protective gear.
Stop the spread at home.
Change your clothes and take a shower after outdoor activities.
Minimize contact with allergens on your pets.
If you can, avoid close contact with pets that have been outside; take precautions by wiping them down with a towel upon re-entry.
Rinse your nasal passages.
Use a cleansing saline solution to remove pollen and other airborne particles from your nose. Nasal hygiene is a vital part of alleviating congestion.
Use an over-the-counter nasal corticosteroid.
Medications like fluticasone, budesonide, and triamcinolone can be easily accessed and administered to relieve nasal symptoms. For best results, stay consistent with nasal corticosteroid treatments according to the directions provided. These solutions are different from medicated decongestants, which should only be used for a short period of time.
Use a custom compounded medication.
Your local compounding pharmacist can prepare a formula for your specific symptoms. Ask them to prepare a solution you can deliver intranasally.*
*A compounding pharmacist will be able to formulate a personalized medication tailored to your needs. Request a liquid formula for your nasal nebulizer for nasal medication delivery that reaches deep into the sinuses.
Take an oral antihistamine before the day starts.
On peak pollen count days, take your antihistamine pill in the morning before you start feeling symptomatic, so it has time to kick in[*].
Use cromolyn sodium nasal solution.
Deliver this solution into the nasal passages before exposure to allergens to inhibit the body’s release of inflammatory histamines[*].
If seasonal nasal symptoms continually have you down, seek consultation from your general physician, local compounding pharmacist, or a specialized healthcare provider like an allergist. Testing and treatment go hand-in-hand; a combined approach can be helpful for long-term symptom management.
Can oak pollen allergies be cured?
There are times when frequent and severe symptoms are not well-controlled by medications. Although there is no cure for oak pollen allergies, an allergist may recommend a preventative treatment like immunotherapy to train the body to become less allergic to a trigger.
Allergies are often a lifelong challenge, but knowledge about your triggers and a consistent approach to symptom management make all the difference when it comes to truly enjoying the beauty of the seasons ahead.