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How to Tell If It’ll Be a Bad Allergy Day? Check One of These Pollen Apps

May 05, 2021

Seasonal-allergy sufferers don’t need a Gregorian calendar to know when spring starts. Their noses know. So do theirs eyes. Itchy, stuffy, runny, sneezy and grumpy are the change-of-season adjectives.

So what’s in your allergy toolkit this year? Antihistamines, a decongestant, maybe a steroid nasal spray and a jumbo box of Kleenex? Don’t forget an allergy app on your smartphone or tablet. You’ll know exactly how miserable you’ll feel every day of the week.

This year, you’ll also have to consider another variable: Is it allergies or COVID-19?

“As far as telling the difference between allergy and virus,” says Dr. Jason Kurtzman of Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care, “it’s often hard due to overlap of symptoms. If the primary symptoms are itchy eyes, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, that is more likely allergy. If there is also fatigue or low-grade fever I’m more likely to say virus. Both can have sore throat and cough, but again I’m more likely to link those to viral illnesses. Ultimately, we treat both very similarly.”

Here are some free apps, available for both iPhone/iOS and Android devices, that can help you manage symptoms in the coming months:

Allergy Alert

A favorite of many longtime allergy sufferers, with a five-day allergy (and weather) forecast for multiple locations and a diary to track how you feel each day. The app, from Pollen.com, can forecast a high pollen count for tomorrow — let’s say 9.3 on a 12-point scale — which guarantees some people will be facing a multi-symptom kind of day. A good allergy app should also indicate the predominant pollens, too. (Watch out for the maple-birch-oak triple-tree-whammy.)

Bonus: Owners of Ford vehicles with Sync system with AppLink can get on-the-go pollen updates by pairing your smartphone (via Bluetooth) with the system.

WebMD Allergy

Daily allergy information and a local allergy map serve as toppers to what looks more like a blog about allergies (“Allergy Triggers”) and dealing with the resultant misery (“Do You Need an Air Filter?”). The user is greeted with a stack of alerts — mold, dust, tree, grass and ragweed — marked with a generic rating (like low, moderate or high). Tapping on the alert, however, reveals a numerical value and more allergy resources. A daily tracker and library, no surprise from WebMD, are also available.

Dr. Jeffrey Miller, a rheumatologist and allergist at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, talks about allergies and pollen counts this spring during a recent appearance on WTIC-1080 radio:

Zyrtec AllergyCast

You’ll have to put aside the obvious advertising tie-ons to live with AllergyCast, produced by the makers of  Zyrtec brand of Cetirizine, an antihistamine. The app-makers devised something called Allergy Impact, which supplements the actual pollen count with a higher number designed to reflect an expected level of discomfort. The Allergy Impact of 10.1 could mean a more runny nose or more itchy eyes than the usual 9.3 pollen-count day.  This app also offers hourly, four-day and six-day extended forecasts. The daily symptom tracker also creates a graph that tracks both your allergy impact and the pollen count.


If you’re a seasonal-allergy sufferer who also has asthma, you’ll need a good air-quality app. (Air pollution can make you more sensitive to your asthma triggers.) AirNow, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, displays hourly readings in your location, which you can enter by town or ZIP code. The Connecticut air-quality forecast also includes information courtesy of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.