Hey, Curious Campus: Why are allergies so bad in Austin, what can I do to alleviate symptoms?

Megan Shen

Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and outdoor seating is dusted in yellow — it’s allergy season. 

Spring is here, and with it, so are allergies. Most students are accustomed to allergies but not all are familiar with why allergy season seems to be so prevalent in Austin. 

So, when one of our readers asked us, “Why are allergies so bad in Austin, and what can I do to alleviate symptoms?” we looked into it as part of Curious Campus, our series where we answer reader-submitted questions.

Allergies are not a rare occurrence, but many students are surprised to find they experience heavier symptoms in Austin than back at home. Business freshman Emma Tran said while her allergies were always present in the past, they became really bad when she came to UT. 

“I think it’s because there’s just so many plants and trees around campus,” Tran said. “Back home, obviously there would be plants and trees, but it wouldn’t be as much as there are here, like down Speedway it’s completely lined with trees.”

Dr. David Vander Straten, a physician at the University Health Services said in Austin there’s typically always some sort of allergen in the air, such as grasses, trees, molds or cedar.

“Depending on where a student is from, they may not necessarily be exposed to those types of allergens,” Vander Straten said. “But when they get to Austin, again with something typically in the air year-round, they’re potentially more likely to have allergy symptoms here.”

So how do students deal with bad allergies?

Psychology junior Kiran Abass said one trick she uses to alleviate symptoms is taking a cold shower. 

“Whenever you’re sneezing a lot or when your allergies are acting up, it’s because your pores are open, and they’re taking in all that pollen around you,” Abass said. “So if my allergies are particularly bad, I just hop in the shower, and I just shower from head to toe, I wash my hair and everything.”

Other than that, Abass said after taking allergy medication, she tries her best to relax for the rest of the day.

“The biggest thing for me is just trying to rest, because after sneezing so much, that takes a huge toll on my body,” Abass said. “I can’t move or anything like that, so my only other option is to just settle.”

If students have allergies that are particularly serious or intense, Vander Straten said they would be a good candidate for allergy shots.

“Our Allergy, Immunization, and Travel Clinic is actually able to provide those allergy shots for students on campus, which a lot of students find to be quite convenient and helpful,” Vander Straten said. 

Tran said the most annoying thing overall about allergies is having to sneeze all the time.

“Allergies kind of suck,” Tran said. “But for me it’s personally seasonal, so hopefully it’ll be over soon with summer coming around.”