If you suffer from pollen allergy then you may be affected by pollen form different plants some include oaks, hickory, pecan and ragweed. This triggers an allergic reaction which affects the respiratory system. Symptoms can include watery eyes, sore throat, rhinitis, runny nose and others. However pollen is very difficult to avoid so minimise your exposure to pollen and use medications that may help in case they persist such as antihistamines.
- General overview
- What is pollen?
- Pollen types
A lot of people are sensitive to different reactions. Some of these sensitivities are noticeable in what is commonly regarded as allergies, the most common type being an allergy to pollen. In simple and clear terms, an allergy is the reaction of a person’s immune system to a particular substance that is usually not harmful.
The body’s immune system is arranged to shield the body against any harmful substances, but the immune system this time reacts to a false alarm. These substances, however, range from many things in the environment such as food, insect stings, pollens, medicines, and many others. Hence, they are called allergens. These allergens, which is usually not harmful, is recognized as an invading substance.
As earlier indicated, people have different allergic reactions which can manifest as sneezing, rashes, itching, difficulty of breathing, runny nose among others. Unless it is a severe allergic reaction, the reactions are not commonly life-threatening which can result to anaphylaxis. One of the most common allergies experienced by many people all over the world is pollen allergy.
What is Pollen?
Either it is pollen or pollen grains, they are microscopic, oval-shaped particles made by plants for their reproductions. The insects, has already known, transferred some of the pollens to the destination plant. Over times, other pollen doesn’t need to be transported as the plant pollinates itself. Self-pollinating plants make use of the pollen produced from their own flowers to fertilize themselves and proliferate. A lot of these plants are unisexual, meaning they only have either a male or female part and only require cross-pollination. Agents such as the wind, water, insects, and other agents of cross pollination are needed to transfer these pollens to other plants to induce fertilization.
A common and growing misconception about pollen is that all the “beautiful flowers” cause pollen allergy symptoms. This simply is not true… unless you are always around these flowers or a florist, these flowers do not activate your pollen allergy symptoms.
Ideally, the types of plants that trigger the very tiny, powdery, pollen grains that move the wind are the ones that cause the problems. They don’t have the pretty flowers but are typically very plain and non-showy in appearance. While they are designed to ride the wind to their fertilizing destination, unfortunately, some of them don’t make it to the destination plant. They might end up in your eyes or nose instead; triggering your symptoms of allergy. Pollens that activate pollen allergy are usually related with plants that produce them in large amounts such as the ragweed plant which can produce up to a million of pollen grains every day.
Allergy to pollen comes in many forms, the common ones being sneezing with either runny or congested nose, watery eyes, conjunctivitis, or itchiness around the eyes, throat, and nose. A pollen allergy can also be a trigger to other serious problems like ear infections, sinus, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
The majority of these symptoms are caused by the release of histamine by the mast cells. As the nasal mucous membrane comes in contact with the pollens, the mast cells recognize the pollen as an invading substance. The affected area which houses the mast cells then releases histamine which causes the blood vessels in the area to dilate. When this occurs, the fluids are allowed to escape through the walls of the blood vessels and could lead to a congestion and swelling of nasal passages as a result of the production of mucus. Hence, histamine is reported to be related with the itchy sensation.
Most times, allergic to pollen is often suspected when a person experiences a continuous summer cold. Most experts recommend skin tests to check the type of pollen that causes the allergic reaction and to know which types of plants to avoid. Moreover, additional examination also involves blood testing to check the levels of IgE antibodies for a particular type of allergen. The simplest and easiest way to avoid having allergic reactions or treat pollen allergy is to completely avoid plants that produce allergy-causing pollen by staying indoors especially in the morning.
There are different types of pollen that causes your allergy symptoms, but the most common ones are grass pollen, weed pollen, and tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen. Tree pollen is the one that is predominant in the springtime. On the other hand, grass pollen is the culprit during summer although there may be an overlap in June while weed pollen dominates the fall. In reality, especially if you have a severe pollen allergy, fall is likely the time your pollen allergy symptoms are the worst.
Ragweed allergies are known to be the worst! One ragweed pollen grain can spark your ragweed allergy symptoms. Surprisingly, a single ragweed plant produces millions… yes, millions of grains every day. During pollen season, ensure to keep a close eye on the pollen count so as to know when there is a lot of pollen in the air. Doing this, it would be easier for you to avoid pollen and do things to prevent it from accumulating in your house.
Spring time is an ideal time for flowers and sunshine. It is a time when families or couples go out and enjoy the fresh spring breeze. Unfortunately, for the about 50 million people in the United States, this is a season of stuffy noses, wheezing, and sneezing (NIAID, 2017). Carried by the wind, they are primarily caused by those tiny particles of pollen float around the air. Once a person who is allergic to pollen breathes this in, Ah-ah-choo! And the sneezing begins!
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports the occurrence of pollen allergy at about 12.87 percent. That is about 1 in every 7 individuals affected with this hypersensitivity.
Anaphylaxis, a serious and extreme allergic reaction, is something that all individuals should look out for. This should be immediately treated by the administration of an injectable epinephrine by your doctor. Otherwise, death may result!
Additionally, over the counter medications for pollen allergy are also available. Diphenhydramine is the most common medicine purchased by the average American. It has a brand name of Benadryl and can effectively treat the allergy symptom, however, it can also lead to drowsiness. Irritability, headache, dizziness, and decreased coordination are some of the side effects of Diphenhydramine.
Since allergic reactions to pollen may lead to asthma attacks, asthma medications apart from the injectable epinephrine should also be prepared. Having asthma medications on hand can help seize the attack.
Also, pollen allergy can occur during the summer, fall, and spring but can occur all year-round for some severely allergic people. Nevertheless, learning about your allergy to pollen will help you in controlling its symptoms.