Pollen Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Side Effects
Pollen Allergies Overview
It’s that time of the year when local news channels will provide regular updates on pollen counts. Yes, spring is on its way. And so is pollen allergies. Each year tens of millions of Americans suffer from allergic symptoms due to exposure caused by grass, tree, and weed pollens.
Pollen is necessary for the environment. Without it, people can’t enjoy food. However, on the other side, it makes most people sick by causing flu and asthma-like symptoms.
Pollen can make its way into the smallest of crevices. Which makes it enter a person’s body as well, causing pollen allergy, also referred to as springtime allergy.
What is Pollen?
Just like humans, plants have genders as well. The male part of a flower releases a pollen minuscule, which is a particle that fertilizes the female plant. The science is similar to that of a human or animal, however, plants need wind, bugs, or other small animals to take pollen from one place to another.
That is the reason pollen is found everywhere. Pollen tends to spread far and wide to reach the female ovule for fertilization. This process is extremely beneficial for farmers, however not so much for those who suffer from pollen allergies.
The Cause of Pollen Allergies:
To have pollen allergies or hay fever, makes one suffer from an allergic reaction once they have come in contact with pollen particles. The reason behind this is that pollen is microscopic and airy, which makes them travel through the air easily. Once it is in air, it can also get inside a human body from the nose and mouth, directly into the lungs.
An allergic reaction occurs because the immune system wrongfully detects pollen as dangerous. The immune system then prepares itself to safeguard a person against a “foreign body.” All of this leads to the immune system, finally releasing antibodies to fight the pollen particles. This process produces a chemical, namely histamine, which is the cause of traditional allergies.
According to Allergy and Asthma Foundation, more than 23 million suffer through ragweed allergy each year, making it the highest cause of pollen allergy.
How to Identify Pollen Allergies?
Allergic reaction due to hay fever can be identified with a myriad of symptoms. The presence and sereneness of the symptoms are directly proportional to how much exposure to pollen there has been and one’s tolerance levels against pollen.
The most common allergy symptoms are:
● Runny nose
● Watery eyes
● Sore throat
The symptoms of pollen allergies are different for every individual. In some cases, a person may not react severely, and on the other side, some people are allergic to only a certain kind of pollen. This means, if someone suffers through hay fever, they have been exposed to a plant that they are personally allergic to.
If one is aware of the type of pollen they are allergic to, it is easier for them to get treated with time before the symptoms get worse, and there are tests available for that cause.
To help your body become resistant to pollen, allergy shots are highly recommended.
Hay Fever in Spring vs. Summer vs. Fall:
In case one is suffering through hay fever in the spring, it is possible that they could be allergic to the following plant pollen:
However, if the allergies rise in the summer, they may be caused to the following plants:
● Timothy grass
And similarly, if one has hay fever in the fall time, it may be due to the following weeds:
What this means is that hay fever doesn’t only arise in springtime, but throughout the year, however, the time is spring is most common.
How does the Area Impact the Severity of Pollen Allergies?
In an area that is not windy or has rainy weather, the pollen will be washed away before causing any trouble. One the other side, cities with windy and dry climates will have a higher pollen allergy index, that too, on an everyday basis. This is one of the reasons why allergies spark up when one is traveling or visiting a new town/city.
While there are still many questions on how commonly people are allergic to pollen, scientists have not yet found a concrete answer. Except for the theory that the immune system is flawed And fights against a seemingly harmless substance.
Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (April 24, 2020)
- Bohle B., 2007, The impact of pollen-related food allergies, Allergy 62, edition 1, p 3-10.
- Valenta R., Duchene M., Vrtala S., Birkner T., Ebner C., Hirschwehr R., Breitenbach M., Helmut R. , Scheiner O., Dietrich K., 1991, Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 88, edition 6, p. 889-894.
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Looking for more allergy types? Find a full list of other allergy causes here.
Last Updated on July 5, 2023