09 Mar Pollen and Allergy Season: 5 Important Things to Know
Pollen and allergy season has arrived! Although most of us enjoy the spring weather with the joys of outdoor activities, this season also brings more environmental allergens. Pollen is one of the most common allergens that trigger a local reaction in humans during this time of the year. Let’s take a closer look at pollen and how it affects allergy sufferers.
What is Pollen?
Pollen is delicate powder-like substance plants produce as part of their reproductive process. The grains contain the plant’s male reproductive cells, which are released into the air and carried by insects or wind to fertilize the female reproductive parts of other plants. This is how pollen and allergy season plays a vital role in creating new plant life.
While the sight of colorful flowers and plants is a reassuring sign of the changing season for many, it’s a sign of trouble ahead for those suffering from allergies. Breathing in the pollen floating in the air can trigger an immune response that causes allergies such as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
Pollen and Allergy Season
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance that is usually harmless, like pollen and allergy season. This overreaction causes specific cells in the immune system to produce antibodies that release chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream. This histamine causes inflammation, itching, and other symptoms associated with allergies.
Common symptoms of pollen allergies include sneezing, stuffy and runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sore throat, cough, and fatigue. For people with asthma, pollen can also trigger or worsen asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Types of Pollen
Most people are allergic to the pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. Different types of plants produce different types of pollen. Here’s a quick rundown of the different kinds of pollen:
Tree pollen: Trees are the first to release pollen in the spring. Common tree species like oak, maple, ash, cedar, elm, pecan, and birch produce a lot of pollen.
Grass pollen: In the summer, grasses like Bermuda, fescue, bahia, and ryegrass release large amounts of pollen into the air.
Weed pollen: Ragweed is the most common weed pollen allergen. This weed grows nationwide and can release millions of pollen grains into the atmosphere.
Allergy Testing and Treatment
If you suspect you have a pollen allergy, the best way to confirm it is through allergy testing. A skin prick test is the most common way to diagnose pollen allergies. It involves pricking the skin with a tiny amount of allergen to see if it triggers a local reaction.
Once diagnosed, treatment options for pollen allergies include:
– Avoiding exposure to pollen as much as possible
– Using over-the-counter antihistamine medications to relieve symptoms
– Nasal corticosteroid sprays to reduce inflammation in the nose
– Allergy shots or immunotherapy, which involves receiving injections of small amounts of the allergen over three to five years to help build immunity to the allergen
Tips for Reducing Pollen Exposure
If you suffer from seasonal allergies due to pollen and allergy season, here are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to pollen and minimize the severity of your symptoms:
– Stay indoors when the pollen count is high (usually in the early morning) and keep windows and doors closed.
– Use air conditioning to filter pollen out of the air inside your home and car.
– Keep your floors clean by vacuuming regularly and washing bedding and linens.
– Wear a mask when gardening or doing outdoor activities on high pollen days.
– Shower and change clothes after spending time outside.
– Consider planting pollen-free plants around your home.
Pollen and Allergy Season Relief
Spring is a beautiful time of year, but it can be challenging for those with pollen allergies. Understanding what pollen is, how it triggers allergies, and taking steps to reduce exposure can help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you suffer from pollen and allergy season, visit the Houston allergists at McGovern Allergy & Asthma Clinic. Their team of board-certified allergists will perform allergy testing to pinpoint any allergy triggers and discuss what treatment options are available.
Schedule an appointment by contacting our clinic at 713-661-1444 or request an appointment online. https://www.mcgovernallergy.com/request-an-appointment-online/