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Pollen Allergy: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Pollen Allergy: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Max Lab

Nov 23, 2023

Pollen allergies, commonly referred to as “hay fever”, can affect anyone at any age. While some people may suffer from allergic reactions during specific periods, many people may also suffer from them all year round. Usually, pollen allergies are triggered when trees, plants, grasses, etc., release pollen particles into the air for fertilisation.

What Are Pollen Allergies?

Trees, plants, flowers, grass, etc. produce a fine powder to fertilise other plants, which is released into the air or carried by animals, birds, and insects. For some people, breathing in pollen or pollen coming in contact with their skin can lead to an adverse immune response. In such cases, the immune system mistakenly identifies the allergen (pollen) as an intruder in the body and begins producing chemicals like histamine to combat the perceived threat. One can be allergic to more than one type of pollen, which can be identified through a pollen allergy test. The cost of the allergy test will depend on the number and type of tests included in the panel.

The Causes of Pollen Allergies

Pollen allergies are caused due to the immune system’s adverse response to pollen when it mistakenly considers it as a harmful entity in the body. While there are various kinds of allergy tests that can help detect the issue, the exact cause of any type of allergy, including pollen allergy is not known. However, it is widely believed that a person’s genetics may play a role in developing an allergic reaction.

Types of Pollen Allergies

There are numerous plant species that may trigger an allergic reaction. Along with this, different people may react differently to pollen from various types of trees or plants. Pollen allergies can broadly be classified into three major types:

  • Tree Pollen Allergy: Tree pollen is generally very fine and can be carried across vast distances by the wind. Some of the common trees that may trigger pollen allergies include cedar, ash, oak, mulberry, hickory, elm, etc.
  • Grass Pollen Allergy: Many people have allergic reactions to grass pollen, and may develop symptoms like nasal issues, cough, and itchy eyes. Common grass varieties that can trigger such reactions include sweet vernal, timothy, Kentucky, Bermuda, etc.
  • Weed Pollen Allergies: These allergic reactions are mostly triggered on hot and windy days when the airborne pollen is at its peak. Ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, and English plantain are among the most highly allergenic species of weed.

There is a different test for a skin allergy and a different test for other types of allergies, which are prescribed based on the symptoms one exhibits.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Pollen Allergies

Some of the most common symptoms that may lead to one being prescribed a pollen test are:

  • Stuffy or runny nose.
  • Pressure in the sinus, leading to facial pain.
  • Sore throat or cough.
  • Itchy or watery eyes.
  • Increase in asthmatic reactions.
  • Swelling or bruise-like appearance of the skin under the eyes.

Certain symptoms are particular to the type of pollen allergy that one suffers from. These Include:

  • Tree Pollen Allergy: Increased production of mucus; nasal congestion; itchy mouth, ears, eyes, and nose, and swelling around the eyes.
  • Grass Pollen Allergy: Sinus blockage, post-nasal drip, itchy throat and eyes.
  • Weed Pollen Allergy: Irritation in the throat or eyes and nasal congestion.

Diagnosis of Pollen Allergies

Based on the symptoms one is displaying, whether they are showing any effects of the allergy on the skin, etc., allergy testing may include various diagnostic procedures.

The skin pricking test may be prescribed, where different areas of the skin are pricked to insert small amounts of different allergens. In case one is allergic to a particular allergen, redness, swelling, and itchiness will develop at the site of pricking the skin. An allergy blood test panel may also be suggested based on the symptoms. It is best to visit a diagnostics centre instead of opting for a pollen allergy test at home. Based on whether it is a blood test or a skin test for the allergy, the cost can also vary. However, it is vital to choose only an NABL-accredited diagnostics centre for undergoing the required tests.

Treating Pollen Allergies

It is highly unlikely for a pollen allergy to go away once it has been developed. Considering this, it is better to avoid pollen whenever possible. Steps that can be taken to prevent allergic reactions include:

  • Wearing sunglasses and a hat when going outside.
  • Avoid going outside if the pollen count is high.
  • Keeping the windows and doors closed during peak pollen season.
  • Instead of hanging washed clothes outside to dry, consider using a dryer.
  • After spending a significant amount of time outside, it is important to bathe and wash the hair.
  • Bedding should be washed using hot, soapy water at least weekly.
  • Avoiding activities like gardening or landscaping during peak pollen season.

If despite the precautions mentioned above, one suffers an allergic reaction, some treatment remedies can help relieve the symptoms:

  • Medication: Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines and decongestants.
  • Allergy Shots: If OTC medication does not help much, allergy shots may be recommended as a form of immunotherapy in which one receives a series of shots over an extended period.
  • Home Remedies: Nasal irrigation, nasal sprays, etc., may also offer some form of relief.

Allergic reactions may show symptoms ranging anywhere from mild to extreme, so it is important to consult a doctor regarding allergy testing, taking medication, etc.

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