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


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.

  • Allergies

Sara Moniuszko

Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at 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)


Why are allergies so bad right now in 2024? ›

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.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies in spring? ›

Itchy, watery eyes, a tickly throat, and a stuffy, runny nose can make you dread springing ahead—and falling back. Likely triggers include tree pollen, grass, mold, and ragweed.

What are the symptoms of a pollen allergy? ›

Allergies to pollen commonly cause symptoms of hay fever including: runny, itchy, congested nose. sneezing. irritable, itchy, watery and red eyes.

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.

Are allergies worse this year, 2024? ›

The 2024 allergy season is expected to start earlier and potentially feel worse than other years; The New York Times reports, “Spring allergy seasons are beginning about 20 days earlier than they had, according to an analysis of pollen count data from 60 stations across North America from 1990 to 2018.” But why, and ...

Why is everyones allergies getting worse? ›

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 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.

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 is the fastest way to get rid of pollen allergies? ›

Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers
  1. Stay indoors on dry, windy days. ...
  2. Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  3. Remove clothes you've worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  4. Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.

What are the worst allergies to have? ›

Slideshow: Life-Threatening Allergy Triggers
  • Peanuts Can Be Dangerous. 1/15. ...
  • Shellfish, Fish, Anaphylaxis. 2/15. ...
  • Sesame Seeds, Tree Nuts, Soy. 3/15. ...
  • Hidden Allergies: Dairy, Wheat and Egg. 4/15. ...
  • Flying Insect Stings and Allergies. 5/15. ...
  • Ants, Ticks and Anaphylaxis. 6/15. ...
  • Prescription Medicine and Reactions. ...
  • Latex and Anaphylaxis.
Sep 29, 2023

How bad can allergies make you feel? ›

The Symptoms, From Itchy Eyes to Sneezing. Your allergy attacks might range from mild and annoying to more severe and even life-threatening. It all depends on the way your body reacts and how much of the allergen got into your system. If your allergy is severe, you may have a serious reaction called anaphylaxis.

Do allergies make you tired? ›

Both seasonal and year-round allergies can cause fatigue. Getting tested by a board-certified allergist is the first step to finding relief.

Why is everyones allergies so bad this year? ›

Blame climate change

Rising temperatures are also allowing plants to bloom earlier and longer, prolonging pollen seasons. Increased rainfall means plants release more pollen when they bloom, and higher numbers of thunderstorms cause pollen grains to burst, making them more irritating and worsening symptoms.

Why are my allergies extra bad this year? ›

Why are my spring allergies so bad this year? The warmer winter weather potentially lends itself to a longer and more severe spring allergy season. Weather changes can affect pollen levels, which in turn affect allergy symptoms. With warmer temperatures, comes an increase in spring pollen levels.

Why is the number of people with allergies increasing? ›

Our diets tend to include more processed foods and less fruit and vegetables. It has been suggested that the increase in food allergy might be due to more allergenic foods, such as peanuts, in our diet.

Why do seasonal allergies get worse with age? ›

As we grow older, our body changes and so does our immune system. Just as we no longer run as fast as we once did, we may lose our tolerance to potential allergens, from pollen to dog hair. And, on the flip side, we may build immunities to the things that once bothered us, research shows.

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