What is a Pollen Allergy?
The fine powder of pollen is produced by plants, flowers and weeds to fertilize the other plants of the same species. It is also one of the most frequent causes of allergy in the United States.
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Pollen can trigger an immune reaction in many people
Normally, the immune system protects the body from harmful invaders like viruses and bacteria.
People with pollen allergies mistakenly identify harmless pollen as dangerous invaders. To combat the pollen, the immune system produces chemicals such as histamine.
This is called an allergy reaction and the type of pollen responsible for it is known to be an allergen. An allergic reaction can cause a variety of irritating symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes.
Types of allergy to pollen
Many plant species release pollen that triggers allergic reactions.
These are some of the most common suspects:
- Birch trees
- Oak trees
- Ragweed plants
- Birch pollen allergy
Birch pollen, which is a common allergen in spring air, is a major culprit. When birch trees blossom, tiny grains of pollen are released by the wind.
One birch tree can yield 5.5 million pollen grains
- Oak pollen allergy
- Oak trees release pollen in the spring, just like birch trees.
Oak pollen is mildly allergenic, but it remains in the air longer than other pollens. Some people can experience severe allergic reactions from pollen allergies.
- Grass pollen allergy
- Grass is the main trigger for pollen allergies in the spring and summer.
There are many kinds of grass. Some grasses, like Bermuda grass, bluegrass and perennial rye can trigger allergies.
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Ragweed pollen allergy
The most common weed to cause allergies is ragweed. One plant can produce more than 1 billion grains pollen.
They are most active in the fall months. However, depending on where it is located, ragweed can spread its pollen as early August as well as into November, depending on how much they are active.
- Wind-driven pollen can travel hundreds miles and live through mild winters.
- Pollen allergy symptoms
- Pollen allergy symptoms most often include:
- nasal congestion
- Sinus pressure can cause facial pain.
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Under the eyes, bluish-blue skin
- Sensitivity to taste and smell is decreased
- Increasing asthmatic reactions
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Pollen allergies: What causes them?
- When your immune system incorrectly recognizes pollen as dangerous, you can develop allergies to pollen.
- It is not clear what causes allergies, including pollen allergies. Experts think genetics could play a part.
Diagnoses of pollen allergies
A primary care doctor can diagnose a common allergy to pollen. To confirm your diagnosis, your primary care physician may refer you to an allergist. An allergist is a specialist in treating and diagnosing allergies.
These steps are often used for allergy testing:
Your medical history and symptoms will be asked. This includes when and how long they have persisted. Also, whether they get worse or better at specific times of the year.
The allergist will perform a skin test to identify the allergen causing your symptoms. They will then prick various areas of your skin and inject a small amount each of different allergens.
You might experience redness, swelling and itching if you are allergic to any of these substances. This can happen within 15 to 20 min. A raised, circular area may appear similar to hives.
- Bloodwork can also be used to test for allergies.
- Pollen allergy treatment
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There are treatment options available if you continue to experience symptoms, even if you have taken preventive measures.