Winter is in the air and so are outdoor allergens. While most of us find this weather perfect for hangouts, this season might be the most annoying for those who are prone to seasonal allergies, specially the kids. Itchy and runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing — we all know the signs of fever but if your kid is experiencing these symptoms, it might not be a common fever but pollen allergy.
Different types of pollen are dispersed into the air depending on the area you live in and the vegetation around you. Knowing what causes allergy for you is the first step to save yourself from the pollen’s attack. What makes it even worse is certain kinds of fruits and vegetables that are considered usually healthy for all, might prove prickly for the allergic people.
What is Pollen and why does it cause allergies?
Pollen is a fine dust that is created by plants for fertilization. All types of plants, trees, weeds, flowers, and grasses require pollen to fertilize other similar plants of their species. The pollen grains are released during summer, monsoon, spring or fall, depending on the kind of plant and its fertilization period.
Allergies are a reaction of the human body towards foreign materials. The body’s immune system is designed to protect the body from any invading matter like bacteria or viruses. In the case of allergies, the body mistakes certain particles known as allergens as invasive and acts to fight against them.
The same is the case with pollen allergies; they are caused by a variety of pollen from different plants. The most common among these is the Hay Fever or medically known as Allergic Rhinitis. This allergy affects more than 50 million Americans every year.
Signs and symptoms of Pollen Allergies
Pollen is airborne and is inhaled, which causes the allergic reaction. Some of the symptoms that are noticeable are:
- Congestion in the nasal cavity
- Pressure on the Sinus, leading to a facial pain
- Runny nose
- Watery and Itchy eyes
- Scratchy throat
Pollen allergy can also aggravate the existing asthma conditions. However, it has a comparatively low impact on the body than certain food allergies. Allergies like peanut allergies even cause swelling and blockage of throat and airways. It is why you should get yourself checked up with an expert ENT specialist.
How are Pollen Allergies diagnosed?
If you find yourself having any of the signs of pollen allergy then you should head to your doctor who may refer you to a good allergist. An allergist is a specialist who diagnoses and deals with the treatment of allergies.
The diagnosis usually starts with a record of your medical history. It is useful if you have a written record of when you experienced the signs of pollen allergies including the weather on that particular day. It will help the allergist understand the background of your symptoms.
Then the allergist will conduct a skin prick test on you to find out which allergens cause your allergies. Several different types of allergens are inserted through pricks in the skin. If you develop redness, swelling or itchiness of the skin that means you are allergic to the particular allergen. You can start the treatment once you understand the pollens or allergens that affect you.
What are the different kinds of pollen that can affect you
You have as many types of pollen as the species of plants! However, not all pollen is airborne, which usually cause the allergies. Many types of pollen are heavy and are carried by birds and bees hence are not particularly dangerous allergens.
Some of the most common pollen that causes allergies are:
- Birch Pollen Allergy: This is quite common in the spring as it is then that the Birch trees bloom and cause millions of pollen to be scattered by the wind. It has been identified that one Birch tree can release up to five million pollen grains that travel up to 100 yards from the tree.
- Ragweed Pollen Allergy: This is the most common of the weed pollen and affects during the fall and spring months. These pollen grains are extremely light and travel far by the wind, even traveling up to hundreds of miles.
- Grass Pollen Allergy: The beautiful flowering of the variety of grasses in the summer also cause the dispersion of the pollen grain! These are the number one cause of pollen allergy during the summer.
Treatment of Pollen Allergy
Allergies are often chronic illnesses and cannot be treated permanently. Only the symptoms or signs of the allergy can be managed effectively.
- Avoid triggering the allergy. Keep a watch on the weather conditions and the pollen count in the area. Try to avoid going out on high pollen count days.
- Outsource the yard work or outdoor tasks to someone else or wear a mask if you need to work in the gardens or in the area that has huge vegetation around.
- Stay indoors and close the doors and windows during the high pollen count days
Medications for the Allergy.
- Keep OTC drugs like antihistamines ready, if you experience any signs of pollen allergy.
- Allergy shots are effective in the long run. Taken over a period of 2-3 years these allergy shots can strengthen the immune system against the allergens.
- Make sure you get the signs of pollen allergy diagnosed and get the right treatment plan from your doctor.
Source: Pollen Allergy Facts