An allergy is when your body reacts to a substance that it thinks is harmful and creates a natural immune response to fight it — causing the allergy symptoms. The substance is called an allergen and one of the most common allergens is pollen. There are many different types of pollen that can trigger your allergies throughout the year. If you live in Jacksonville then you’re likely to be suffering even worse as it has a long allergy season that lasts for most of the year. But what can you do to alleviate your symptoms? Read on to learn all about the different types of pollen that trigger allergies in Jacksonville, how you can avoid them, and what the common allergy treatments are.
When is Allergy Season in Jacksonville?
The allergy season in Jacksonville lasts for approximately ten months of the year, generally beginning in January and lasting until October. However, due to its warm climate it is not uncommon for trees to begin pollinating as early as December, meaning that there is often very little respite from allergies at all throughout the year. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranks Jacksonville in 22nd place overall in the list of allergy capitals in 2022. It ranked a little higher at 20 during the spring season and a little lower at 26 during the fall.
Plants that Cause Allergies in Jacksonville (By Season)
As we’ve already mentioned, there are several different types of pollen that can trigger allergies and they occur at different times of the year. In a general sense, tree pollen is prevalent during the spring, grass pollen during the summer, and weed pollen during the fall. However, we’ll take a closer look below and discover which plants and trees cause the most problems in Jacksonville.
The main issue for allergy sufferers in Jacksonville is tree pollen. Tree pollen is the fine yellow dust that you typically find covering your car in the morning. However, although most people assume that most tree pollen comes from flowering trees, the majority actually comes from pine trees. Tree pollen season usually begins in January (or sometimes December) and runs until May.
Aside from pine trees there are still quite a lot of others trees that can trigger allergies during the spring. These include bayberry trees, elms, oaks, maples, and river birch. River birch trees are particularly fascinating as they can sometimes cause oral allergy syndrome. Although oral allergy syndrome is a type of food allergy it is actually a pollen-food allergy to be specific. This is when an airborne pollen cross reacts with certain raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts — or in simpler terms your body assumes that the food is the pollen that you are allergic to. In the case of birch pollen, it can cross-react with things such as carrots, pears, peaches, plums, apples, cherries, and almonds. Symptoms are triggered upon contact with the food and can include an itchy mouth and throat as well as mild swelling of the lips and tongue.
As we move into the summer, the most prevalent pollen in the Sunshine State is grass pollen. The grass pollen season begins in April and lasts until October. The most common grass pollen allergens in Jacksonville are those that come from corn, Bermuda grass, rye grass, and winter bent. Rye grass in particular is one of the main causes of hay fever as its pollen is highly potent and often widespread. However, summer also sees the beginning of the weed pollen season which brings it’s own problems as the fall months approach.
The number one allergen in the fall is ragweed even though it usually pollinates from May. Ragweed is the common name for flowering plants in the Ambrosia genus of the aster (Asteraceae) family group. They are widespread across all of Florida, not just Jacksonville and their pollen can travel for hundreds of miles on the wind. In fact, one ragweed plant can produce around one billion grains of pollen in a single season. However, although ragweed is the main fall allergen, others include Florida pellitory, Russian thistle, silverling, marsh elder, and saltwater false widow.
Although winter also sees the beginning of the tree pollen season again, another seasonal allergy is actually mold. That’s right, unfortunately it’s not just pollen that you need to worry about. Although mold is typically associated with cooler weather, the high humidity of the late fall and winter months in Jacksonville can also lead to an increase in the number of mold spores in the air. Mold can occur in a variety of places, but prime examples are decaying leaves, rotting wood, grass cuttings, and compost heaps.
How to Treat Allergies During the Jacksonville Allergy Season
Now that you know exactly what is causing your allergies, you’re probably wondering what you can do about them. Although it’s impossible to eliminate them completely there are a few things that you can do to help yourself during the allergy season.
The main thing that will help to alleviate your symptoms is to try and limit your exposure to your triggers. This means staying indoors when the pollen count is particularly high and keeping doors and windows closed. It’s also a good idea to use a dehumidifier or to install a HEPA filter in your home to keep the air as clear as possible. Also, it’s best to avoid activities such as gardening where you’re going to be more exposed to pollen. However, if you do then you should change and wash your clothes as soon as you return indoors as pollen can stick to them.
If your allergies are still getting you down then you can also treat them with medication such as oral antihistamines. Although you can purchase these over the counter, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor as their may be other types of medication that they can offer you. Another option is to take an allergy test to find out exactly which allergens are your triggers. After all, it’s easier to avoid them if you know what they are!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jim Vallee/Shutterstock.com
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