How Weather Affects Allergies

Do your eyes water on windy days? Are you always stuffy when it rains? That's no surprise. Weather is a common allergy trigger.

The connection between your symptoms and the weather depends on what you’re allergic to. Here are a few common triggers:

  • Dry, windy days. Wind blows pollen into the air, causing hay fever. If you have pollen allergies, shut the windows and stay indoors on windy days.
  • Rainy or humid days. Moisture makes mold grow, both indoors and out. Dust mites also thrive in humid air. But if you're allergic to pollen, humid or damp days are good. The moisture weighs down the pollen, keeping it on the ground.
  • Cold air. Many people with allergic asthma find that cold air is a problem, especially when they exercise outside. It can trigger a coughing fit.
  • Heat. Air pollution is worst on hot summer days. Ozone and smog can be a serious trigger for people with allergic asthma.

The change of seasons also has a big effect on allergies.

  • Spring. In cooler states, plants start to release pollens in February or March. Tree pollens are also a common spring allergy cause.
  • Summer. Early in summer, grass pollen can trigger reactions. Later in the summer, ragweed and other weeds can become a problem. Mold can hit its peak in July in the warmer states.
  • Fall. Ragweed season usually ends with the first frost in October. In colder states, mold tends to be worst in the fall.
  • Winter. Indoor allergens -- like pet dander and dust mites -- can become more of a problem in winter. Why? When it's cold out, you spend more time indoors.

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What Can You Do?

Unless you're prepared to settle down in a bunker, there's no way to avoid the weather. But you can work around it and reduce your allergy symptoms.

  • Pay attention to the weather. Check local pollen and mold counts. Watch for Ozone Action Days. Spend less time outside when you're likely to have problems.
  • Prepare for allergies. If you have the same allergy at the same time every year -- ragweed in the fall or tree pollen in the spring -- get ahead of it. Ask your doctor if you can start taking allergy drugs about 2 weeks before you usually start sneezing, coughing, or itching. That way, you can stop them before they start.
  • Control your environment. You can't change what's happening outside, but you do have some control over conditions in your house. Use air conditioning to filter out mold and pollen. Use a dehumidifier to ward off mold growth and dust mites.
  • Get the right diagnosis. Don’t just guess what’s causing your allergies. See your doctor to have an allergy skin test, which can show you exactly what triggers your symptoms. When you get the results, you might consider asking about immunotherapy, such as allergy shots or tablets that go under your tongue. They can help keep your allergies under control no matter what the weather or the season.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 23, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology: "Pollen;" "Outdoor Allergens: Tips to Remember;" "Ragweed Allergy;" and "Dust Allergy Management."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Air Pollution” and “Asthma Overview.”

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