Seasonal allergies affect around 60 million people in the US, and tree pollen is one of the reasons it’s such a common condition. These allergies are often referred to as “hay fever,” and in the medical world, they’re called “allergic rhinitis.”
Do you think you or a loved one has a tree pollen allergy? Keep reading to learn what you need to know about tree pollen allergies, how to manage them, and what to do if you want long-term allergy relief.
What is tree pollen?
Pollen is fine, powdery dust produced by plants. It’s made of microscopic particles that are released from the cone, or the male part of a flower. Because of its small size, pollen is easily picked up by the breeze, insects, and other animals and travels to other plants. When it comes in contact with the same species, the pollen fertilizes the female part of the flower, which is called the ovule.
How does tree pollen cause allergies?
Your immune system is designed to identify bacteria, viruses, and other foreign pathogens that cause infections and then works to destroy them. Sometimes, the immune system malfunctions and misinterprets harmless particles, such as pollen or animal dander, as dangerous and starts an immune response to destroy them.
The body releases histamine, a chemical that triggers processes to get unwanted pathogens out of your body. You may cough or sneeze. Your eyes may water. Mucus may build up in your nose. Your skin may become itchy. Each of these responses is an attempt to rid your body of what the immune system has recognized as harmful. But because there isn’t anything harmful to target, the response doesn’t stop and results in allergy symptoms.
When do tree pollen allergies happen?
Tree pollen is often the culprit for early spring flare-ups. In some regions of the US, trees start producing pollen as early as January and continue through June, leading to a six-month tree allergy season. Unlike other allergenic pollen, tree pollen is fine and carries further in the breeze. Hence, tree pollen finds its way into your eyes, lungs, and sinuses easier than other seasonal pollens.
Some people only develop allergies to tree pollen, but not other seasonal pollen like grass or flowers. Other people may only be allergic to specific tree pollen like pine pollen or birch tree pollen. Allergies to the pollen of the mountain cedar, cause allergies so severe, the symptoms have been coined cedar fever.
What are the symptoms of tree pollen allergy?
While allergy symptoms vary depending on your level of sensitivity and exposure, the most common symptoms include:
- Excess mucus production
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy eyes, ears, nose, and mouth
- Watery, red, swollen eyes
- Sinus pain
Those with tree pollen allergies and allergic asthma may experience an increase in asthma symptoms during allergy season. And because allergy symptoms contribute to issues like nasal congestion and post-nasal drip, you may have trouble sleeping, fatigue, or brain fog as a result.
How do you manage tree pollen allergies?
Although tree pollen allergies are a pain, there are actions you can take to help you manage symptoms.
Determine your triggers
Allergy testing can help you determine what specific substances trigger your allergies, including what tree pollen allergy you have. Knowing what specific tree pollen causes your symptoms allows you to avoid that pollen and similar allergens that may cause you to react.
Use over-the-counter medications
Over-the-counter medications can offer short-term relief from your tree pollen allergy symptoms. Be sure to use as directed. Extended use of decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal sprays can cause unwanted side effects.
Keep your air pollen free
During tree pollen season, keep windows and doors closed and avoid using window fans. Instead, keep your air conditioner on to circulate air. If your allergies persist, it may be worth investing in a HEPA air filter to remove pollen and other allergens from the air inside your home.
Avoid exposure to tree pollen
Check allergy forecasts to know when pollen counts are elevated and avoid going outside on those days. If you have to go outside, avoid peak pollen times (usually mid-morning and early evening) and consider wearing a face mask or pollen mask to limit your exposure. When you return home, be sure to change your clothes and wash your face and hands.
Consider allergy immunotherapy
Allergy immunotherapy is the only clinically-proven treatment that decreases your allergy symptoms for long-term relief. By exposing the body to small traces of allergens, the immune system builds a tolerance and stops reacting. Immunotherapy is available through allergy drops, which are sometimes referred to as sublingual immunotherapy. By taking a few drops of allergy drops under your tongue every day, your symptoms improve and your allergies fade away.
Fix your tree pollen allergy with Wyndly
At Wyndly, our doctors work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan, tailored to your needs, preferences, and experiences. Schedule your consultation today and be one step closer to an allergy-free life!