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During spring, allergies due to pollen are extremely common. Many people, especially the ones with a chronic respiratory problem, tend to suffer from pollen allergies quite often.
Understanding Pollen Allergy
For the fertilization of plants belonging to similar species, trees, grasses, flowers and weeds produce a fine powder known as pollen. Many people cannot tolerate breathing in pollen and develop an adverse immune response towards it.
Our body is designed to defend itself against the harmful bacteria and viruses. In cases where a person has pollen allergy, the immune system identifies the pollen as an invader and begins producing chemicals to start fighting it.
This is termed as an allergic reaction. The kind of pollen causing this form of allergy is referred to as an allergen. This allergic reaction can lead to several problematic issues such as constant stuffy nose, watery eyes along with sneezing. This form of allergy is also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
Types of Pollen Allergy
While some people are affected by this kind of allergy only during certain times of the year, some are affected all round the year. This by far depends on the type of pollen allergy a person has caught. Read on to know some of the most common culprits behind this kind of an allergy.
Oak Pollen Allergy: During the spring, pollen is sent into the air by oak trees. Compared to pollen of other trees, pollen of oak trees is considered mild. However, this pollen stays in the air for longer periods of time, causing severe pollen allergies for people who succumb to it easily.
Birch Pollen Allergy: Much like in the case of oak trees, birch pollen is also one of the most common allergens during the spring season. When the birch trees bloom, tiny grains of pollen are released that get scattered by the wind. It has been found that a single birch tree is capable of producing around five million pollen grains.
Grass Pollen Allergy: During the summer season, the primary cause of pollen allergies is grass. The most complicated and difficult to treat form of pollen allergy is caused due to the pollen grains released from grass. Compared to other types of pollen allergies, this form is most serious. However, a recent study has stated that an immunotherapy medication for this kind of an allergy has been found, which is capable of relieving symptoms when other medications have failed.
Ragweed Allergy: Among weed pollen grains, ragweed plants are the prime culprits. They are highly active, especially during the end of July continuing up to the middle of October. They can travel miles.
Symptoms of a Pollen Allergy
The most common symptoms of pollen allergy are:
• Facial pain due to sinus pressure
• Itchy and watery eyes
• Runny nose with or without sneezing
• Nasal congestion
• Scratchy throat
• Decrease in the sensation of taste and smell
• Increase in asthmatic reactions
• Swelling with bluish-coloured skin beneath the eyes
Diagnosing Pollen Allergy
Some doctors prefer conducting an allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis, while a few may conclude just by observing the symptoms. If referred to an allergist, be specific about mentioning all your signs and symptoms accurately. Telling them exactly during which months of the year, you are more prone to developing this form of an allergy, will help them make a better diagnosis.
A skin prick test is performed to identify the specific allergen causing the allergy. The procedure includes pricking different areas of the skin where a small amount of allergen, of various kinds, is inserted.
If you are allergic to any of these inserted allergens, then you would develop redness along with itching and swelling on the allergen inserted site, well within a period of 15 to 20 minutes. The area sometimes also develops into a round and raised form, quite like a hive.
Pollen Allergy Treatment
Medication: Despite preventive measures, if you still continue facing symptoms, then there are a few over-the-counter medications that can help you. Medications containing antihistamines and decongestants can help you treat the symptoms of pollen allergy
Allergy shots: If medications do not help you, then allergy shots are recommended. These shots are a form of immunotherapy that includes a series of injections having the allergen. The amount of allergen is slowly increased over time. These shots are meant to modify the way the immune system responds to the allergen. It might take around one to three years for you to be completely cured.
Home Remedies: You can try using a squeeze bottle to wash out the pollen from your nose. Dry your clothes in a dryer rather than hanging them outside to dry. Use a vacuum cleaner that is enabled with a HEPA filter. Use air conditioning at home and in the car. You can try using specialized herbs and extracts. Wash clothes that you have worn outside.
Avoiding the allergen could be difficult. However, ensure that you minimize your exposure to the pollen causing allergy. Try staying indoors on windy, dry days. Wear a dust mask when outside. Avoid gardening tasks. Keep the windows and doors of your house closed. Usage of some herbs can interfere with the functioning of the medications prescribed to you. Therefore, remember to consult your doctor before taking any herbs or extracts