Pollen Allergy

Overview

Pollinosis is an allergic reaction to the pollens of any plants, although most people use the term hay fever, which is specifically an allergy to grass pollens. A pollen allergy produces symptoms similar to other allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes. People with pollen allergy often have symptoms that flare up during certain times of the year and may only find relief by staying indoors. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can make the symptoms of pollen allergy more bearable.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of pollen allergy depend on the season and the amount of pollen in the air. The immediate symptoms are runny nose, sneezing, and watery or itchy eyes. The roof of the mouth, nose, or throat may also be itchy. After a while, a stuffy nose, coughing, sore throat, and puffiness or circles under the eyes may develop. Some people experience sinus pressure along with other symptoms. Although a pollen allergy may share symptoms of a cold, there are some differences. A cold may be accompanied by aches and a fever, and it usually lasts only a few days to a week. Pollen allergies, however, may be present all year but flare up at certain times. If someone with a pollen allergy also has asthma, pollen can trigger asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. A pollen allergy can also lead to ear infections and sinusitis. Most people develop allergies at a young age, but the severity of symptoms may gradually get better over a lifetime.

Doctors diagnose pollen allergy based on symptoms and a skin test. Skin tests can pinpoint which allergens someone reacts to by pricking a small amount of the allergen into the skin. If there is an allergy, the skin will develop a bump. A blood test may also be done to test for antibodies in the blood.

Causes

An allergy is caused by the body’s reaction to different allergens, such as pollen. When the body is exposed to an allergen, it responds by producing antibodies that release histamines, a chemical that causes allergy symptoms. Pollen can come from trees, grasses, and ragweed. Symptoms of a pollen allergy depend on the season and how much pollen is in the air. People who are more at risk of developing a pollen allergy include those with a family history of allergies and those who already have other allergies or asthma. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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