Iowa Allergy Season: Peak, Timing, and Symptoms

Written by Andrew Wood
Updated: April 21, 2023
© Natalia Kuzmina/
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This article provides helpful information for navigating allergy season in Iowa, which can be challenging due to the state’s prevalent rural and wooded landscape. The article covers the most common allergens, such as mold, dust mites and pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. We’ll explain the peak and timing of the allergy season and tips for managing and preventing symptoms. The article also includes advice on addressing allergies in pets. Whether you’re a resident or planning a visit, this information will be valuable in enjoying the beautiful Iowa weather without being held back by allergies.

Beautiful little toddler girl in red colorful dress watering blossoming roses flowers with kids water can. Happy child helping in family garden, outdoors on warm sunny bright day
Finding ways to control your allergy symptoms will make your outdoor activities in Iowa more enjoyable.


Allergies Explained

In a person with allergies, the immune system is sensitive to things like pollen, chemicals, pet dander, foods, bee stings, or other normally harmless substances. When we can identify what those allergens are, the allergy sufferer may be able to make some changes to their diet or environment so those things don’t bother them so much. They can also take antihistamines, decongestants, and other over-the-counter or prescription medications to mitigate the coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, rashes, and other symptoms of allergies. Sometimes allergies get better over time on their own, but other times they get worse, and new allergies can develop. In the case of severe allergies, immunotherapy may be used to help the body build up resistance to allergens. This involves receiving regular injections of small amounts of allergens to stimulate the production of antibodies.

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Woman with allergy symptoms
In allergic people, allergens cause a reaction from the immune system that produces uncomfortable symptoms.


The Timing of Iowa Allergy Season

Allergy season in Iowa can vary depending on the type of allergen and factors such as weather conditions and temperature. Additionally, mold and dust mite allergens can be present year-round indoors and outdoors, and can also cause symptoms.

The most common allergens in Iowa are tree, grass, and weed pollen, as well as mold spores. Peak tree pollen season takes place from April to May. Trees that are common in Iowa and known to cause allergies include:

  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Elm
  • Birch
  • Ash
  • Hackberry
  • Box Elder
  • Willow

Grass species reach peak pollen in May to July. Grasses that are common in Iowa and known to cause allergies include:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Orchard grass
  • Timothy grass
  • Bermuda grass

August-September is the weed pollination season in Iowa. Weeds that are common there and known to cause allergies include:

  • Ragweed
  • Pigweed
  • Lamb’s-quarters
  • Sorrel
  • Smartweed
Corn field in Iowa with blue sky and farm buildings on background
As a fertile agricultural state, Iowa produces a great many allergens.

©Natalia Kuzmina/

Monitoring Pollen Count

The pollination period for trees in the United States is mainly in spring, between March and May, but in southerly parts of the country, it can start as early as January and have multiple peaks throughout the year. To determine the amount of pollen in the air, scientists use a metric called pollen count, which is calculated as the number of pollen grains per cubic meter of air. This measurement can be helpful for individuals with allergies to determine the severity of their symptoms on a given day. The measurement is done by air samplers and reported daily during allergy season. A high pollen count is considered to be over 120 grains/m3.

You can find this information through local news, meteorological offices, and online pollen forecast websites. It’s important to note that pollen counts can be affected by weather, location, and measurement methods and may not be entirely accurate and can vary day by day depending on factors such as wind, rain, and temperature.

Allergy Season
When pollen is heavy, avoiding outdoor activities is advisable.

©Chad Robertson Media/

Methods of Allergy Testing

You might already have a good idea of what you’re allergic to, just from observing when your symptoms act up, at certain times of year or when you are doing certain activities. The only way to be sure, though is to see an allergist for allergy testing. What can you expect? There are two main ways to test for allergies:

  • A skin test – Your allergist will place small concentrates of common allergens on the skin of your arm or back and watch for a reaction. If you are allergic to one or more of them, you’ll see a red welt raise up after a few minutes.
  • A blood test – Testing a blood sample can indicate whether your body is producing antibodies against an allergen. A blood test may be used to confirm the results of a skin test, especially if it was ambiguous.

If the initial tests are inconclusive, you may go through another round of testing with less common allergens. In the end, though, some people have allergy symptoms that cannot be decisively connected with any one particular allergen.

Allergy Test
A skin test is one of the most common ways to test for sensitivity to allergens.


What is Non-Allergenic Rhinitis?

Non-allergenic rhinitis is a term for a condition in which a person has the symptoms of allergies, but no specific allergen can be identified. It’s possible it can result from a viral infection, a structural problem in the nasal passages and sinuses, exposure to fragrances, household cleaners, or other chemicals that irritate the system, or physiological reactions to stress or hormonal changes. Fortunately, non-allergenic rhinitis often responds well to the same medications as allergies.

Non-allergenic rhinitis can have many different causes. Even when the cause is unknown, though, it can respond to allergy medications.


Some Ways to Manage Allergies

Avoiding allergens is one of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms. These are some examples of potental ways to avoid allergens:

  • Closing windows and using an air conditioner or air purifier to keep pollen out of your home.
  • Vacuuming and dusting your house more frequently.
  • Washing bedding, draperies, and towels in hot water to kill dust mites.
  • Showering and changing clothes after spending time outdoors.
  • Restricting pets to certain areas of the house and delegating their care to non-allergic family members.
  • Changing your schedule to avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.
  • Re-landscaping your yard to remove specific species you are allergic to.

Of course, it’s impossible to completely avoid all allergens, so medication is often necessary. These include:

  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Nasal rinses
  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots)
dust mite
Dust mites can be somewhat controlled by washing bedding, towels, and draperies in hot water.


Allergy Meds You Can Afford

When managing allergies, it’s worth considering the use of generic over-the-counter treatments as they can be just as effective as brand-name products. In fact, many popular brand-name allergy treatments have generic counterparts that are available at a more affordable price point. To assist you in making an informed decision, the active ingredients of four popular brand-name treatments and their generic equivalents are provided below. This will help you compare and choose the best treatment for you.

Amazon Basic Care Loratadine Antihistamine
  • Long-lasting relief from allergy symptoms
  • Non-drowsy formula
  • Active ingredient is the antihistamine Loratadine (10 mg)
  • 24-hour allergy relief
Check Amazon
ValuMeds 24-Hour Allergy Medicine
  • 24-hour allergy relief
  • Works for pollen, hay fever, dry eyes, itchy eyes
  • Main ingredient is Cetirizine HCl
Check Amazon
ValuMeds Antihistamine, Diphenhydramine HCl 25 mg
  • 600 tablets
  • Active ingredient: Diphenhydramine HCl 25 mg
  • Suitable for Children and Adults
  • Relieves Itchy Eyes, Runny Nose, Sneezing

Check Amazon
HealthCareAisle Allergy Relief - Fexofenadine Hydrochloride
  • Active ingredient: Fexofenadine Hydrochloride
  • 90 tablets of 180 mg
  • Non-Drowsy
  • 24-Hour Allergy Relief

Check Amazon

What Are the Signs Your Pet Has Allergies?

Just like humans, animals can suffer from a variety of allergies. They can be allergic to certain ingredients in their food, such as some kinds of proteins, carbohydrates, or food additives or preservatives. They can be sensitive to dust mites, molds, and pollens just like people. A particular issue with some animals is a sensitivity to flea bites. This type of allergy causes intense itching, causing the animal to lick, scratch, and bite at its fur and skin. They can rub bald spots in their fur and irritate the skin so much with scratching that they can get secondary skin infections.

Other potential symptoms of allergies in pets are respiratory issues such as coughing, sneezing, or nasal drainage, expelling phlem, vomiting or diarrhea. A veterinarian can make a diagnosis and recommend treatment options. Controlling allergies in your pet may require a combination of medication, changes to their diet and environment, or even immunotherapy injections.

Cat licking its paws
If your pet licks, scratches, or bites at its fur more than normal, it may have an allergy.

©Fayzulin Serg/

Can You and Your Pet Take the Same Allergy Meds?

Some human allergy medicines can be given to pets, but it is absolutely crucial to consult with a veterinarian before doing so. This is because pets may have different reactions to human medications and some medications that are safe for humans can be harmful to pets. Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, may be used in pets but the dosage must be adjusted based on the pet’s weight, breed, and overall health.

Additionally, it’s important to note that not all antihistamines will be effective in pets as they are in humans. Other human allergy medications such as nasal sprays, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators are typically not recommended for use in pets due to potential side effects. A veterinarian will be able to recommend the best treatment option for your pet’s specific condition and provide guidance on the correct dosage and frequency of medication.

spay a dog at petsmart
A veterinarian can diagnose allergies in your pet and recommend the best treatment options.


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© Natalia Kuzmina/

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer, world traveler, and lifelong animal lover. Currently, I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka, the most selfie-friendly animal in the world!

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