Be greater than your allergies

Be greater than your allergies

allergy guide by state

Image courtesy of Thinkstock


Provided by The Weather Channel

When the pollen season is underway, does that mean the same thing in Austin, Texas as it does in Portland, OR? According to Dr. Stanley Fineman, former president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and an allergist at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, not necessarily.

Different regions of the United States see different pollens released at different times, so while you might be suffering from a grass allergy flare in Alabama, tree pollen sufferers in Alaska could be seeing a rise in their symptoms.

Dr. Clifford Bassett, founder and medical director at Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, says an easy way to remember when your allergies may flare is to know that tree pollen releases first in early spring, even as early as mid-February in some locations. That is followed by the release of grass pollens in late spring and throughout the summer. And finally, in the fall, lead allergy culprits are weed pollens like ragweed.

The National Allergy Bureau divides the nation into five regions1 based on their differing seasonal allergy patterns. Let this state-by-state guide to allergies help you navigate the season of sniffling and sneezing.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia

According to Dr. Fineman, whose practice is based in Atlanta, the heart of the Southeast, the tree pollen season starts early in the spring—often even before spring officially starts. “The pollen really likes warmer weather,” he said. And as the temperatures begin to rise heading into spring, southern regions will get their fill of early-releasing tree pollen before the rest of
the country.

Then, “as it gets even warmer,” Dr. Fineman said, “ we see the grass pollen.” He noted that in the Southeast, the grass pollen season tends to begin in early May and can continue throughout the summer.

And finally, as the weather cools down, the Southeast sees the ragweed season closer to fall, generally around or after Labor Day. 

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont

A shorter summer season, compared to regions further south, results in both a later tree and grass pollen season as well as an earlier ragweed season. Dr. Fineman said that typically, the spring tree and grass pollen seasons start approximately three to four weeks later than the Southeast “because it’s colder,” but that the ragweed season begins about two weeks earlier in the middle of August. Don’t let a shorter pollen season fool you in the Northeast, however. Dr. Fineman advised that ”just because it’s a little shorter doesn’t mean people won’t have significant problems.” 

Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas

Because the climate in this region is similar to the climate for the Southeast, the pollen seasons don’t vary too much. One major difference, Dr. Fineman noted, is “in Texas they have a big problem with red mountain cedar tree, which pollinates around December.”

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin

For the same reasons the South Central/Southwest region had pollen seasons that mirrored the Southeast, the Midwest’s pollen seasons are similar to the Northeast. Tree pollen will release and affect allergy sufferers mid-Spring, followed by grass pollen closer to the beginning of summer. In the Midwest, “you’ll start to see ragweed around Aug. 15,” Dr. Fineman said, “because it’s getting cooler and ragweed likes warmer days and cooler nights. Each plant has their own little characteristics of when they like to release the pollen.”

Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming

The Far West spans a number of different climates and as such sees varied pollen seasons throughout the year. Dr. Fineman said that states in desert areas with warmer year-round temperatures like Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico “seem to have more of an all-the-time pollen problem.”

In California, Dr. Fineman believes “it’s pretty much most of the year that they have a pollen problem” and noted that southern Florida on the other side of the country, which has a similar climate, sees the same thing. “Because it’s warm,” the doctor said,” it’s more of a
continual thing.”

Mountainous states like Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming follow the same pattern as much of the rest of the country, according to NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) Hawaii’s list of regional allergens2. Trees, which are very prominent in this region, release pollen from March to May, followed by the grass pollen season from April to July. The fall ragweed season kicks off a little earlier than most, with weeds releasing from early June all the way through October.

Since the Pacific Northwest is such a wet region, and rainstorms are generally thought to wash away pollen, it would be easy to assume that this part of the country has less of a pollen problem, but Dr. Fineman says that’s not the case. Trees, which populate the densely forested region, “need their water to generate pollen too,” he said. “The rain does wash [the pollen] away, but it comes back.” According to the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center3, Seattle and the surrounding areas see tree pollen as early as February—even January for some Hazelnut trees—followed by a peak grass season stretching from May to July and a weed season that spans the entire summer and early fall.

Alaska and Hawaii

Though the NAB doesn’t include non-contiguous states Alaska and Hawaii on it’s list of regions, they too have their own unique allergy burden to bear.

According to the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska4, The Last Frontier does see a distinct tree pollen season in spring, grass pollen season in summer, and ragweed pollen season in the fall. But as Dr. Fineman notes, since Alaska is a colder climate with a shorter warm season than other regions, their allergy season is likely much shorter than other parts of the country. That’s nothing to sneeze at, however, as the doctor added that “they have a really intense pollen season, too.” The tree pollen season in The Last Frontier happens later than most, “a month or even a month and a half after ours [in the Southeast],” Dr. Fineman said. And the ragweed season starts much earlier than the rest of
the country.

The grass might be greener in Hawaii, but that’s not necessarily good news for allergy sufferers. The Rainbow State, having a tropical climate, may be subject to year-round pollen allergies like southern California and Florida, Dr. Fineman noted.