Tree pollen allergy is the main cause of allergy symptoms in early and mid-spring. Some people are allergic to pollen from a single type of tree, while others have problems with pollen from many different tree species. In most cases, tree pollen from one tree does not cross-react with pollen from other trees. Depending on which tree pollen you are sensitive to, you could have symptoms for one or two weeks in April or May, while others will have symptoms from early March through early June.
There are many medications to treat seasonal pollen allergy. Here are some things to consider:
- Over the counter – There are many to choose from including Reactine, Allegra, Aerius, & Claritin. If over-the-counter antihistamines are not controlling your symptoms, see your allergist.
- Prescription medication – There are a variety of medications including oral antihistamines, oral leukotriene antagonists, nasal steroid sprays, nasal antihistamine sprays, and eye drops.
- Use combinations – If one medication is not working, try another one. Sometimes a combination of medications is needed This should only be done with the help of your allergist.
- When – Learn exactly which pollens affect you and start your medications before those pollen counts get high and before you have symptoms. Trees, grasses and weeds pollinate on a fairly regular schedule each year, so you can often anticipate when pollen counts will be high.
Environmental Control Measures
Although you can’t avoid tree pollen, there are some things you can do to reduce exposure. Here are some tips:
- Home – Close your windows and vents to the outside. If you sleep with the windows open, pollen levels will be higher and you will have more symptoms.
- Car – keep the windows and vents closed. You want to minimize the amount of outdoor air and pollen you are bringing into the car. When riding in a car, you are exposing yourself to significantly more pollen than when you are sitting on a park bench. This is because the volume of air you are exposed to when moving is higher than when stationary.
- Time of Day – Pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning than in the afternoon. If you like outdoor activities, do them in the afternoon instead of the morning. People with severe tree pollen allergy might want to only engage in activities indoors during the peak of the pollen season.
- Shower – When you come home at the end of the day, hop in the shower, rinse your hair and change your clothes. Pollen will settle on your clothes and hair and it is helpful to try to reduce the amount of pollen you are bringing into your home, and especially into your bed.
- Clothing – Do not leave clothing outside for any length of time, and do not dry clothing outside during the pollen season.
Certain fruits, vegetables and nuts contain allergens that cross-react with tree pollen, they include the following:
- Nuts – Almond, Hazelnut
- Fruit – Apple, Apricot, Cherry, Kiwi, Nectarine, Peach, Pear, Persimmon, Plum, Orange
- Vegetables – Carrot, Celery, Fennel, Potato
Although most people with tree pollen allergy can eat these foods without any problem, about 1/3 will develop Oral Allergy Syndrome. The most common symptoms are itchiness of the mouth and throat. A small minority will have more widespread and global symptoms seen in other forms of severe food allergies.
It is recommended that people who develop oral itchiness avoid those foods completely in the raw form, especially during the pollen season. It is important to speak to your allergist about this form of food allergy.