Most people are aware there is a connection between pollen and seasonal allergies, but fewer are aware that there are several types of pollen. This article will cover the primary types of tree pollen, what symptoms they can cause, and how to prevent and alleviate these symptoms.
What Types of Tree Pollen Can Trigger Allergies?
There are at least 14 species of tree pollen present in the United States. The most common culprits that trigger allergies and hay fever symptoms are oak, birch, pine, elm, alder, ash and juniper. Species of cypress, cedar and eucalyptus can also cause reactions in people with sensitive respiratory systems.
Tree pollen allergy season usually begins in early spring and lasts until late summer. Depending upon which tree species triggers symptoms, symptoms may appear weeks before or after another type of tree pollen.
Allergies can be triggered by an individual tree species or by a combination of various types of trees in a geographic location. In general, the United States has more types of oak trees than any other species, and oak is the number one cause of allergies. But there are many different kinds of oak trees, and not all types result in sensitivity to oak pollen.
Types of Allergies Caused By Tree Pollen
Most people with allergies to tree pollen suffer from hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis). The word “allergic” means that the immune system reacts abnormally to the pollen. Many different types of trees present in the United States can cause allergies.
Oak Pollen: Many types of oak trees are present in the United States. The most common is the red oak. Sensitivity reactions to oak pollen may vary in severity from year to year and from season to season, depending on weather conditions.
Pine Pollen: This is the most common cause of allergic rhinitis symptoms in the United States. Sensitivity reactions appear to be made worse by the heat and moisture in summer.
Elm Pollen: If you have allergies, you are more likely to react to elm pollen than other types of tree pollen. People with sensitivity to elm pollen may experience a stuffy nose and itchy eyes. Specific cases of asthma may be triggered by contact with elm pollen.
Ash Pollen: This is one of the most common causes of hay fever symptoms in the United States. It can also cause severe allergy symptoms in people with asthma or respiratory conditions. It is most prevalent in the eastern part of the country, particularly during the summer months.
Cedar Pollen: It is present in the East, mainly in the southern part of the United States. People who are allergic to cedar pollen may experience sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose.
Alder Pollen: It is mainly found in the northern part of the country. Alaska has one of the highest incidences of this type of allergy because most people in that area have at least one alder tree within three miles.
Juniper Pollen: This one is very prevalent in the western part of the United States.
What are the Symptoms of Pollen Allergy?
Symptoms can vary in type and intensity among individuals. Some people may have itchy eyes, sneezing and wheezing after the first exposure to a type of tree pollen. Others who are exposed to a particular type of tree pollen may have less intense symptoms but may develop more severe reactions over time.
In some cases, swelling of the throat can result in difficulty breathing. Other common symptoms include coughing and fatigue. When the body is most sensitive to the presence of tree pollen, people with allergies often get many other cold-like symptoms. These issues can persist for several weeks during the height of flowering for trees in particular geographic areas.
How To Prevent and Alleviate Tree Pollen Symptoms
Avoidance is the best way to prevent these types of irritations. It is important for people to stay indoors when trees are flowering with pollen. However, this does not always occur because many of the trees capable of producing pollen are also good agricultural species, such as maples and elms. These trees typically produce lovely red, orange or yellow flowers during the spring and summer months.
People should try to identify which tree may be causing their allergies. This can be done by consulting with a doctor, who will then provide the proper treatment and advice on how to handle the problem.
It is also essential to take precautions, such as wearing a mask if contact with tree pollen is unavoidable. It is also recommended that you wear a mask if you remove clothes that have been exposed to tree pollen. Spray down your vehicle and any other outdoor furniture and equipment that may have been near blooming trees. It is also important to be aware of the time of year when a tree species is in bloom so that you can avoid contact during that time.
There are many types of modern medications available. These medications can be taken during the period of acute sensitivity to tree pollen to help alleviate the symptoms associated with it.
Doctors may prescribe antihistamines, steroids, anti-inflammatories and decongestants to control the severe itching and sneezing. These medications will often be used in conjunction with other treatment options.