February 18, 2020

Surviving Oak Allergy Season: Symptoms, Relief, & Treatment

Oak trees are one of the most common species of trees in the Northern Hemisphere, making it a hard allergen to avoid. People all across the United States suffer from oak tree allergies. Our allergy clinics in Colorado, as well as our allergy clinics in Florida, all have patients who suffer from oak allergies. We hear from a lot of tree allergy sufferers, both jokingly and seriously, about how they need to move to get away from oak trees. The unfortunate news is that oak tree allergies can be bad across most of the country. So, unless you're living in the North Pole or the Sahara, allergies are going to be a part of your life until you take the steps to conquer them.   

Let's take a deeper look at oak allergy symptoms and how to find relief from your oak allergy.

Oak tree allergy symptoms

Oak tree allergy symptoms can vary from person to person, but they’re typically similar to common tree pollen allergy symptoms.

Oak tree allergy symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and red, watery, or itchy eyes. Some people may also experience an itchy throat or nose, fatigue, and potentially dark circles under the eyes.

In severe cases, oak allergies can also aggravate asthma symptoms or even trigger an asthma attack. If you experience any of these asthma-related symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

When is oak allergy season?

Fortunately for oak tree allergies, you can tell when it’s peak oak tree allergy season just by looking at the shade of yellow on your car or the haze covering the sky. 

Oak typically begins its pollinating season around early March and goes through mid-May, reaching its peak in April. However, due to mild winters and warmer temperatures, experts are expecting an even longer spring allergy season.

Foods and triggers to avoid if you have an oak allergy

It can be common to experience an itchy throat or mouth, or other symptoms of allergic rhinitis, after eating certain foods, especially if you suffer from pollen allergies. This is called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS). Similar proteins can be found in these foods as well as in oak trees. Common foods involved with OAS to avoid if you suffer from oak allergies are:

  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Peach
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Soy
  • Strawberry

Testing for oak allergies

If you’re having trouble figuring out if your symptoms are due to oak allergies or something else, it can be difficult to know where to start. At Aspire Allergy & Sinus, we test for up to 58 allergens. This includes oak trees, mold, pet dander, dust mites, and so much more!

The reason this is important is because the overlapping of allergy seasons can make it hard to tell if your symptoms are due to oak allergies or something else. If you’re looking for allergy testing that will help you figure out what's causing your symptoms, book an appointment today!

Skin or prick testing for oak allergies

One of the ways we will test to see if you’re allergic to oak trees is through a skin or prick test. To find out, we will use a tiny needle that pricks your skin. This prick will feel like a dull pinch—not painful at all!

After 20 minutes, we’ll take a look at the spot where we pricked you and see if it’s red and raised, like a mosquito bite. If it is, it means you may be allergic to oak trees.

Intradermal testing for oak allergies

If the results of the skin test were unclear, a second test might be performed, called an intradermal test. This test will provide a more accurate reading of how your body reacts to allergens. Allergens are injected into the skin, typically around the upper arm area. After 20 minutes, a provider will read the test and provide same-day results, letting you know if you’re allergic to oak trees.

Treating oak tree allergies

First, let’s get it clear that the strategy of just “toughing it out” is a bad way to handle your allergies. Your body isn’t simply going to get better, and with allergy season only getting worse, so will allergic reactions and symptoms.

Oak allergy treatments are best taken before symptoms have begun. This is why we always remind our patients to plan ahead and receive allergy testing and treatment before the upcoming oak allergy season.

There are two different types of treatments for oak tree allergies. We’ll explore the differences between both.

Short-term oak allergy treatments:

Antihistamines: Antihistamines, or over-the-counter medications, are often used to help manage allergy symptoms. These counteract the histamine that is released into the body when it comes in contact with an allergen. While these medications might help you feel relief for a moment, they don’t treat the root cause of your oak allergy, resulting in you having to constantly take the medication throughout the spring season.

Nasal decongestants: Oak allergies are known to cause major congestion in the nasal cavity. Using decongestants such as flonase or even nasal irrigation systems can help oak allergy sufferers feel relief from their constant congestion. If using a nasal irrigation system, be sure to follow the instructions properly, or else it can lead to infection. 

Long-term oak allergy treatments: 

A great way to fight your oak tree allergy is through allergy shots. Allergy shots, or S- Immunotherapy work by injecting the oak allergy into your system to train your immune system not to respond to them. Gradually, your treatment doses will increase, and over time, your body will be able to withstand the brutal oak season. Allergy shots are administered either weekly or biweekly in office. Many of our patients enjoy the routine of allergy shots because they don’t have to keep up with the treatment every day.

Allergy drops are another way to begin your oak allergy treatment. They work similarly to allergy shots, as your body is slowly introduced to the oak allergen, building up a tolerance over time. However, with allergy drops, there are no shots; just 3 drops of the treatment under your tongue a day. Many of our pediatric patients enjoy this method of treatment, as they can be taken on the go and come in four different flavors, including apple, raspberry, strawberry, and grape.

ExACT Immunoplasty is a new, innovative treatment made to tackle tough allergens like oak. We know that suffering from allergies can feel never-ending, so we created a treatment that entails just three shots over eight weeks. Clinical studies have shown that ExACT is just as effective as three years worth of allergy shots. This means that you can begin feeling relief from your oak allergy as early as June!

Managing oak tree allergy symptoms

Oak is an airborne pollen, which means that there are a few simple steps you can do to limit how much contact you have with your oak tree allergy. 

1) The first thing you can do is take your allergy medication BEFORE your day begins. Get into the habit of checking your local pollen count at pollen.com. This way, you know when oak allergies are predicted to be high and can start to combat your oak allergies before you begin to feel the symptoms. Medicine like antihistamines might be the quickest form of relief, but they still take a while before they actually start kicking in.

2) Make sure you’re changing your clothes and at least washing your face after being outside for a significant amount of time. As we all know, oak tree pollen is very sticky. It sticks to everything, including your skin and clothes. Oak tree allergies make an excellent excuse to swap into your coziest shirt when you get home from work or when you need an extra reason to convince your kids to get out of their stinky clothes.

3) Avoid outdoor exercise in the morning. Keep the early exercising inside if you’re worried about oak tree allergy symptoms affecting your performance. It’s best to save outside activities for the late afternoon and evening when pollen levels are typically lower, especially during the month of April when we know it’s the peak of oak allergy season. 

4) Make sure to keep windows in your home and car closed to lower exposure to oak tree pollen. We know how nice it is to open up your windows and let the spring breeze into your home, but this is a no-no for those allergic to oak trees. One of the best ways to decrease oak allergy symptoms is by reducing the amount of time spent around them.

5) Invest in a HEPA air purifier. Air purifiers work to remove up to 99.99% of unwanted pollen inside your home. They’re especially great for those who suffer from an oak tree allergy and want to keep their home an allergy-free space. 

@aspireallergy PART 2! This oak season is expected to be even longer and more severe! Start preparing for it now with Dr. Christians tips to pollen-proof your home! 🍃🏠 #allergy #treatment #spring #doctor #help ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show

How Aspire Allergy & Sinus can help treat your oak allergy

Aspire Allergy & Sinus is dedicated to helping our patients solve the root cause of their oak tree allergy so they can get back to living their lives to the fullest. Through our variety of treatment options, our board-certified allergists can help you create a 100% customized treatment plan that will help treat and manage your allergy symptoms. 

Oak allergies can be downright debilitating, and they can negatively impact your quality of life. Sometimes just managing them isn’t enough, especially for a severe allergen like oak. Don’t make it a goal to have to keep surviving each allergy season. Book a consultation today, and see how we can help you! 

About The Author:

Alyssa Arredondo, MPAS, PA-C