When does allergies season start? These are the hay fever symptoms you might be experiencing this month

The best way to get on top of hay fever symptoms is to catch them early

Camera shot through a window of a woman with short hair blowing her nose following the onset of hay fever symptoms, plants in the foreground
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hay fever symptoms are set to be a topic on everyone’s lips as the weather begins to hot up in the lead-up to summer. For many, the warmer months bring a much-needed dose of sunshine but for others, climbing temperatures also signal something else: allergies season. 

Characterized by key symptoms we may mistake for a cold, or even Covid-19 in recent times, those who suffer from allergies are set to experience the full brunt of hay fever in the weeks to come. 

But given enough time, our experts say, you can fight back against allergies with some of the best hay fever natural remedies or over-the-counter medication. It’s just about finding out about hay fever symptoms, like puffy eyes, as allergies season starts and getting prepared. 

When does allergies season start? 

In the US, allergies season starts in February and tends to last until the early summer months. While in the UK, the season begins a little later in March and tends to peak in the middle of May. However, in both cases, it only really goes away once the weather drops around September. 

  • Late March to April: Tree pollen
  • May: Grass pollen
  • July to August: Weed pollen
  • Late August to September: Ragweed pollen

Allergies can last through the year too, however, as it’s not only pollen that causes issues. Dust, mold, food and pet fur allergies are all incredibly common and can bring on a reaction all year round. In fact, while research from American College of Allergy (opens in new tab) predicts that 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, only about five percent of these are linked to hay fever symptoms. The most common issue is food allergies, particularly shellfish and nuts. 

Whether you’ll experience pollen-related allergies to the full degree also depends on a number of factors, pharmacist Sultan Dajani from Golden Eye (opens in new tab) tells woman&home. “You are more likely to get hay fever if you have a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema,” he says. “More than 40 percent of people with hay fever have asthma and 80 percent of people with asthma have hay fever.”

He adds that women are also slightly more susceptible to allergies than men. According to a study in affiliation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (opens in new tab), those in the lead up to menopause are particularly susceptible due to fluctuating hormone levels in the early stages of perimenopause. This, in turn, could lead to a higher risk of developing asthma, eczema, hay fever and other allergy-related conditions. 

So, it’s best to be able to spot the signs and symptoms of allergies when they hit to get treatment in advance. 

Box of tissues on blue background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hay fever symptoms

 While everyone’s experience of hay fever symptoms will look a little different, Dajani says that those experiencing allergies will probably have at least one of the following. 

  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Itchy nose or throat
  • Sneezing 
  • Coughing
  • Itchy, red, watery and swollen eyes

“Eye symptoms can be particularly troublesome,” he adds. “When exposed to an allergen, eyes can become itchy, red, watery and swollen,” our expert says. “The temptation is to rub itchy eyes but this can make symptoms worse and increase the risk of the eyes becoming infected."

If you experience uncomfortable eyes during allergies season, Dajani advises, bathe them with clean water throughout the day and clean them thoroughly at bedtime to rinse any allergens out of your eyes. 

When to visit a pharmacist for hay fever 

When it comes to allergies, a pharmacist should be your first point of call as soon as you begin to develop hay fever symptoms. This is unless you have a condition that would exacerbate the situation, like sensitive skin or eczema, and potentially cause other issues which you would need a prescription for.

Whether it’s for the first time ever or just the first time this year, a pharmacist will be able to offer the best help and advice, along with letting you know about any possible new treatments.

“Symptoms can be mild and treated with over-the-counter medicines or they can be severe, causing a lack of sleep and disruption to general life,” Dajani warns. “Grass pollen, the main trigger of pollen allergies in the summer months causes the most severe symptoms.”

“If you think you have hay fever, visit your local pharmacy for advice and over-the-counter medication.”

Grace Walsh
Grace Walsh

A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.

She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.