There are millions of seasonal allergy sufferers across the United States, but each state comes with its own environmental allergens, peak season, and severity due to the variety of climates. Plant pollens are the most dominant environmental allergen, and there is a diverse collection of pollen-producing plants in every state.
Each person has varying sensitivity levels to the different types of pollen. For instance, you might have grass allergies, but not an allergy to ragweed pollen. On the other hand, your neighbor could have a severe allergy to only oak trees. It is helpful to learn what you are allergic to in your area, and when that pollen blooms, especially if you are not able to get allergy testing done through a local allergist.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below we’ll dive into everything you need to know about the allergy season in Texas. Below we discuss which time of year is the worst for pollen allergies in Texas, and a breakdown of the allergen species in each region of the state. At the end, you’ll find a brief overview of common symptoms, along with the best allergy treatments.
Texas Allergy Seasons
Pollen allergens are highly dependent on the time of year. It is important to know when specific pollens bloom, so you can try to prevent a flare-up of symptoms.
Spring, generally March through May tend to be the worst months for those with tree pollen allergies in Texas, since these are when the tree pollen counts are high. Unfortunately, this spring tree pollen peak occurs shortly after the “mountain cedar season” from winter. There are also a few different types of grass and weeds that produce pollen in the Spring, which tend not to produce as severe symptoms as the trees.
In the summer, which is considered June through mid-September, grass pollen begins to plague allergy sufferers. Depending on the region, you can expect grass pollen to be high only for a few weeks. Weeds then ramp up during summer. However, the tree pollen counts decrease, so the overall pollen counts tend to be slightly better.
The pollen counts are much lower during the fall season, which is late September to mid-November. Weed pollen continues to be in the air, but most of the trees and grasses have calmed down.
In winter, Texas experiences what is referred to as “mountain cedar season” when the cedar trees pollinate. From mid-December to mid-February, approximately a billion pollen grains are released into the air, traveling for hundreds of miles on windy days.
Common Texas Allergens By Region
Texas can be divided in many different ways, due to its large size and unique shape. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to just North, Central, and South Texas. Due to weather differences, allergen species differ in each region.
North Texas refers to the cities and the surrounding areas of Dallas, Fort Worth, Lubbock, and Amarillo.
Juniper, Ash, and Mulberry trees are all significant tree pollens in the winter for North Texas. In the Spring: oak trees, as well as pecan, chinese privets, black willows, and eastern red cedar trees join the winter pollinating trees.
Bermuda and Elliot's bent grass is troublesome most of the year, and the perennial ryegrass makes an appearance in Spring and Summer.
Spiny Amaranth, a ragweed plant, is another year-round allergen in North Texas, though several amaranths and ragweed varieties contribute to ragweed pollen in the Summer and Fall.
In Central Texas, which includes the areas surrounding Austin, Waco, and Odessa, much of the tree pollen is similar to that in North Texas, there are a few extra. In the fall, Privet trees are bothersome and Walnut trees predominate in the Spring.
Orchid, Bermuda, Winter Bent, and Perennial grass are the prominent grass pollens of the central region, with their peak in late Spring and Summer.
Several amaranth and ragweed plant varieties make an appearance in central Texas, and the pollen counts are higher than in the North during every season except Winter.
The surrounding areas of San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and El Paso are included in what we are referring to as South Texas, even though El Paso is very far west.
The tree pollen in South Texas is much less than in other regions. Ash, Willow, and Mulberry trees are the predominant producers, and Bermuda grass is the only grass pollen to watch out for if you have grass allergies.
Chinese Mustard, Four-Wing Saltbrush, White Sagebrush, and Perennial Ragweed are a concern in every season, except Winter, for South Texas.
Environmental allergy symptoms are frequently referred to as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, depending on who you are talking to. No matter what you call them, the symptoms are due to an immune system response to specific environmental allergens.
Some of the most common allergy symptoms include a runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drainage, headache, and a sore throat. Many people also experience itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing.
The type of symptoms and the severity you might experience depend on how much of a reaction your body has to the various allergy triggers. These include pollen-producing plants like trees, grasses, or weeds. However, other allergens can also be in your environment, such as pet dander, dust mites, or mold.
Treating Seasonal Allergies
Allergic reactions to tree pollen, ragweed pollen, and other allergy triggers we have mentioned can wreak havoc on your everyday life. Luckily, there are three general ways to fight back– medications, allergen immunotherapy, and lifestyle changes. Each method has its own pros and cons.
The most widespread allergy treatments are medications, which can be divided into oral and topical treatments.
Oral medications include drugstore pill and liquid allergy medications. Examples include Claritin, Allegra, and Benadryl. Though these medications are easy to take and are partially effective, they also cause significant side effects in many people, especially because the medication is absorbed in the entire body.
Topical allergy treatments, which are predominantly nasal sprays, are the gold standard for treatment. Nasal sprays address symptoms directly at the source, which is inside the nose. Because nasal sprays are only absorbed by the nose, there is little to no absorption by the rest of the body, and so the side-effects tend to be much less than oral medications. Most drugstore nasal sprays only treat one or two allergy symptoms, and often take at least a week to have an effect. Therefore to get relief, you would need to use multiple nasal sprays.
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Allergen immunotherapy, better known as allergy shots or drops, is a treatment in which your immune system is exposed to small doses of specific reactive allergens over time through injections or drops under the tongue. This encourages your immune system to build natural immunity against your individual triggers.
Unfortunately, it is an expensive, time-consuming process that can take a least a year to have an effect.
The final way to address seasonal allergies is to make lifestyle changes. Using an air purifier in your bedroom, avoiding extended periods of time outdoors, keeping your bedroom windows closed during high pollen seasons, and washing bed sheets frequently are all things you can do to minimize allergy flare-ups.
It is important to keep in mind that lifestyle changes, while they can help, are by themselves not a viable option for those with severe allergies.
For a quick reference, below are a few of the most frequently asked questions about allergy season in Texas and their answers.
When is Allergy Season in Texas?
The peak time for allergy season in Texas is during the spring, though for those allergic to cedar trees, January is also a tough month.
Which State's Worst For Allergies?
Pennsylvania is often referred to as the worst state for allergy sufferers, due to its extremely high pollen counts. However, much of the Northeastern and Southern Midwest United States also have challenging allergy seasons.
What are the Worst Months for Allergies in Texas?
The worst months for allergies in Texas are January, as well as March through May.
What are the Most Common Allergy Symptoms in Texas?
The most common allergy symptoms in Texas are a runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, watery eyes, and frequent sneezing.
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