Flowers, trees, grass, and weeds produce a fine powder called pollen. It is crucial for plant growth as it fertilizes other plants of the same species. However, pollens can cause unpleasant symptoms for people with pollen allergies.
Birds, wind, insects, and other animals are responsible for carrying pollen to different places, during certain seasons. When people with allergies breathe in pollen, their body identifies it as a threat, thus triggering an allergic reaction.
This blog gives a comprehensive understanding of pollen allergy, its symptoms, treatment options, and home remedies that can provide relief.
What is pollen allergy?
Pollen spreads through the air and is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies or hay fever. About one in every seven people in the world suffer from a pollen allergy. Some people have pollen allergies around the year, while others get triggered during some periods, especially during the pollen season.
What are the types of pollen allergies?
The three main types of pollen allergies include:
1. Tree pollen allergy – tree pollen that trigger allergies has a tendency to be very fine and powdery. The wind can carry the tree pollens for miles. Even inhaling small amounts may trigger allergy symptoms. The trees that often trigger allergies include ash, aspen, beech, birch, box elder, cedar, cottonwood, elm, hickory, mountain elder, mulberry, oak, pecan, and willow.
2. Grass pollen allergy – There are many people allergic to grass pollen. It causes symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and a cough. There are various types of grasses that often trigger allergies such as Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky, orchard, redtop, rye, sweet vernal, and timothy.
3. Weed pollen allergy – People with weed allergy suffer the most during dry, hot, windy days when the airborne particles are at their worst. A single plant can produce a million grains of pollen on a daily basis. Ragweed causes the greatest number of problems. The other highly allergenic species include English Plantain, lamb’s quarters, sagebrush, redroot pigweed, and Russian thistle.
What are the symptoms of pollen allergy?
The most common symptom of pollen allergy are as follows:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sinus pressure, which can cause facial pain
- Sore throat
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Swollen, bluish skin beneath the eyes
- Reduced sense of taste or smell
- Increased asthmatic reactions
However, some symptoms are typical of specific pollen allergies.
1. Tree pollen allergy – The symptoms of tree pollen allergy include:
- Runny nose and increased mucus production
- Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
- Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth
- Swollen eyes
2. Grass pollen allergy – the most common symptoms of grass pollen allergy include:
- Itchy eyes and throat
- Blocked sinuses
- Post-nasal drip
3. Weed pollen allergy – Weed pollen allergy causes symptoms including:
- Nasal congestion
- Eye and throat irritation
When should you call the doctor?
You must seek help from the doctor if the symptoms become more severe or if the allergy medications are causing any side effects.
Also, you must consult the doctor before trying any new herbs or supplements because some of them can interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications.
What are the causes of a pollen allergy?
Pollen allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly recognizes pollen as a foreign substance entering the body. The causes of any type of allergy, including a pollen allergy are not clear. Experts are of the opinion that genetics may play a role.
How is pollen allergy treated?
A combination of medical treatments, home remedies, and changes in certain lifestyle habits may help ease symptoms of pollen allergy.
The treatments for pollen allergies include the following:
- Over-the-counter antihistamine medications – they include cetirizine or loratadine . Those who are prone to pollen allergies should start taking these medications a few weeks before allergy season starts.
- Allergy shots: Doctors can suggest this if medications do not ease the symptoms. They are a form of immunotherapy. People receive a series of injections of the allergen. The amount of allergen in the shot slowly increases over time.
- Nasal sprays: These sprays are designed to reduce itching and congestion and include decongestants, which are only a short-term solution.
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays: They are effective in decreasing inflammation and the symptoms that are associated with it in the nasal passages.
The majority of these treatments only help manage allergy symptoms; however, they cannot cure them. Immunotherapy can be helpful for long-term allergy management, but it may take several years to complete the entire course of treatment.
Apart from the above-mentioned medications, there are a number of home remedies that may help relieve pollen allergy symptoms, they include:
- Using air conditioning in cars and homes
- Drying clothes in a dryer rather than a clothing line outside
- Purchasing a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or dehumidifier
- Vacuuming regularly with a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter
How are pollen allergies prevented?
As with other allergies, the most important way to prevent symptoms of a pollen allergy is to avoid the allergen. Pollen is difficult to avoid, though people may be still able to minimize their exposure to pollen by:
- Staying indoors on dry and windy days
- Having others take care of outdoor work or gardening during peak allergy seasons
- Wearing a dust mask, and closing doors and windows when the pollen counts are high
People with pollen allergy can get regular information about the pollen counts in the area from the weather section of the local newspaper.
Pollen allergies may interrupt peoples’ everyday activities by causing sneezing, watery eyes, and a stuffy nose. Avoiding triggers and making lifestyle changes is good first step to reduce pollen allergy symptoms. It is also important for people with pollen allergies to stay indoors or avoid stepping out when the pollen levels are high. If there is a need to go out, then wearing a mask may be recommended. Medications or allergy shots may also help reduce the symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is pollen?
Pollen is a fine yellowish powder that fertilizes other plants and is carried by the wind, insects, birds, or other animals. It is extremely important for plant growth and its count is mostly high during spring and summer time, which is also considered pollen allergy season.
How is pollen allergy diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose pollen allergy by:
- Asking the patient for a complete medical history
- Conducting tests to determine the allergens. The tests include a skin prick test and specific blood test.
Can pollen allergy cause pimples?
Pollen can aggravate acne and cause itchiness and rashes on the skin.
Can pollen allergy affect your skin?
Pollen can sometimes trigger a pollen skin allergy and lead to allergic eczema.