Maryland is an eastern state with its fair share of greenery. The result? Well, anyone in the area knows that certain parts of the year can be rough for allergy sufferers. As we round the New Year, the allergy season looms ever closer. Let’s look at the Maryland allergy season and determine its peak, timing, and treatments. Plus, we will look at the primary plant culprits behind this sneezy season and the region where they can be found. Let’s get started!
Maryland’s Allergy Season
The Maryland allergy season can be challenging for many residents, as the state experiences a prolonged pollen production period because of its seasonal weather patterns. Beginning in early March and lasting until late November, April, June, and September tend to be the peak of the Maryland allergy season.
Like other regions and surrounding states, Maryland’s cold winters will help to stop pollen production. This creates a low and high season for pollen production, resulting in the “allergy season” many are familiar with.
Let’s look at the most prevalent plants in Maryland that can cause allergy symptoms.
The Plants that Cause Allergies in Maryland (By Season)
There are a lot of plants in Maryland, many of which release pollen during the warmer months. This release of pollen can cause severe allergic reactions as the human body will treat the pollen as an intruder in the body. When that happens, your body basically turns on itself! Here are some of the most common plants in Maryland that cause allergic reactions, broken down by season.
Springtime in Maryland increases pollen levels, with oak, hickory, ash, and maple pollen being the most problematic for allergy sufferers. These trees release large amounts of pollen into the air, which can cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
The spring season is often viewed as one of the worst because of the sudden increase in pollen when compared to the winter season. Additionally, tree pollen is extremely fine, which can float on the wind and travel extremely far, blanketing the allergen-causing pollen across the entire region.
During the summer, grass pollen is the most prevalent allergen in Maryland. Bermuda grass is the main culprit for allergies during this time, although other grasses like bent, fescue, and rye are also offenders. Grasses, however, are different than weeds like ragweed, which we will cover next.
Surprisingly, fall is among the worst seasons for allergy sufferers, primarily because of one famous and nefarious weed: ragweed. As fall approaches, ragweed becomes more active in Maryland and increases its production as the weather hits its highest temperatures and starts to dip. Ragweed pollen is prevalent during the late summer and early fall and can cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
Other plants in the fall which cause problems include wormwood, sagebrush, orache, and amaranth. Part of the reason ragweed pollen is such an issue is the sheer amount of pollen that a single plant releases. Some estimates say that a single ragweed plant can release over a billion pollen grains in a single season.
Winter isn’t usually an issue for outdoor allergy sufferers, although indoor allergies do rise sharply. Mold, pet dander, and dust are all found inside, and with colder weather, people are usually inside more often and exposed to these allergens.
The Best Allergy Treatments
There are a lot of allergy treatment options available nowadays. Here are some of the most impactful treatments to help allergies, broken down by category.
There are several types of medications available to alleviate allergy symptoms. Common over-the-counter options include antihistamines and decongestants. Antihistamines help to reduce sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical released by the body during an allergic reaction. Decongestants help to relieve nasal congestion by narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal passages.
Avoiding allergens is an important step in managing allergies. To reduce exposure to outdoor allergens, it’s best to stay indoors on days when pollen counts are high and to keep windows and doors closed. To reduce exposure to indoor allergens, it’s important to keep the house clean and well-ventilated and to use air filters with a HEPA filter. The best place to look for pollen counts is via your local weather stations, as they measure things within regions like cities and counties, where the pollen counts can drastically differ over the course of even a mile.
There are several home treatments that can help to alleviate allergy symptoms. Nasal irrigation treatments, like a neti pot, can help flush out mucus and allergens from the nasal passages. Showering or bathing after being outside can help to remove pollen and other allergens from the hair and skin.
Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a long-term treatment option for allergies. It involves administering small doses of an allergen to gradually build up a tolerance to it. This treatment option is usually recommended for people without success with other treatments or those with severe allergies.
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