What Should I Do If I Develop Adult Onset Allergies
If you believe you have developed allergies as an adult, avoid any suspected allergens while you are waiting to see your allergist. Your allergist may order some tests such as blood or skin tests to further evaluate your allergies.
If allergy testing confirms a diagnosis of allergy, your allergist will work with you to develop a treatment plan including avoidance measures, medications, and/or other treatment options such as immunotherapy for environmental allergies.
Why Do I Get Seasonal Allergies
During the spring and summer, most grasses, trees, and other plants take part in a 240-million-year-old tradition: shooting their sperm cells into the air so that they might get caught by the wind, land on another plant, and fertilize it, eventually producing a seed. Each sperm cell is packaged in a hard protective shell, forming a tiny grain of pollen.
Although these pollen grains are meant to land on other plants, some end up in a different place: inside your nose.
For most people, this isn’t a big deal. But for about 8 percent of adults, pollen from specific species including trees like pine and birch, weeds such as ragweed, and various grasses can trigger a rather unfortunate response from the immune system. Your body mistakenly interprets these pollen grains as foreign intruders and begins a series of steps intended to beat them back:
1) White blood cells inside your nasal passages come into contact with pollen grains and mistake them for dangerous interlopers.
2) These white blood cells then produce large numbers of antibodies small, Y-shaped proteins that are specially designed to lock on to a specific threat .
3) The antibodies bind to other kinds of white blood cells . So the next time grains of pollen enter your nose, the specially designed antibodies recognize and lock on to them, as well, eventually causing the mast cells and basophils to break open.
Tips For Reducing Pollen Exposure
- Stay indoors until after midday, particularly in the pollen season and on windy days.
- Avoid going out during, or after thunderstorms, particularly when pollen counts are high.
- Wear sunglasses, carry tissues, shower when you arrive home, and rinse your eyes with water.
- Do not mow grass and stay inside when it is being mown. If mowing is unavoidable, wear a mask or take a non-drowsy antihistamine.
- Keep windows closed at home and in the car. Use recirculating air conditioning in the car.
- Do not picnic in parks or in the country during the pollen season.
- Try to plan holidays out of the pollen season or holiday at the seaside.
- If landscaping at home, research plants less likely to trigger allergic rhinitis or asthma. If you are sensitive to particular weeds or trees that are outside your bedroom window, have them removed.
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Why Does Pollen Cause Allergies
Do you experience sneezing, itching, and watery eyes during spring and summer? Youre probably allergic to pollen, the fine powder that comes from the stamen of flowering plants and grass. When pollen is dispersed through the air, it enters the nose, mouth, and eyes and causes an allergic reaction called hayfever or Rose fever. While scientists arent exactly sure why some immune systems mistake pollen as a harmful substance, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that over 20 million people suffer from hayfever.
What Causes Pollen Allergies
Pollen allergy symptoms like sore throat, cough, watery eyes, itching, hives, and other, more severe reactions like asthma, are the result of a biological histamine response to pollen. Pollen is the powdery substance that trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds use to pollinate. According to the Better Health Channel, this type of allergic reaction is called hay fever.
One of the most difficult parts of having a pollen allergy isnt dealing with the symptoms, but trying to figure out what type of pollen you might be allergic to. For instance, those who are allergic to tree pollen might not have any problems with ragweed or grass pollen. Ultimately, determining which allergies you actually have could involve going to a specialist to take an official allergy test.
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When Does A Person Develop Allergies
Allergies can develop at any point in a persons life. One factor that increases your chance is your family history. If one parent is allergic there is a 30-50% chance of their offspring developing allergies. This jumps to 60-80% if both parents are allergic.
In many cases, allergies first present early in life, during infancy or the toddler years. Most of these allergies will be lifelong concerns, although some can resolve on their own.
Histamine & Liver Congestion
Often, excess histamine and underlying infection combine to make allergy symptoms particularly severe.
Ideally, your liver would remove any excess histamine caused by seasonal allergies but when it is congested from the strain of an underlying infection, it gets ‘behind’ at clearing away this excess histamine.
This is why you may have had mild allergies before but now the symptoms are unbearable.
There is a certain threshold, a certain amount of toxin or infection that your body can comfortably handle but once it passes that point your body falls behind and your symptoms drastically change.
This could mean that your symptoms get more severe, you have them more often, you have different triggers or they are a different set of symptoms entirely.
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Which Plants Produce Pollen That Cause Allergic Reactions
Plants that have powdery granules of pollen that are easily blown by the wind, such as:
Trees, such as oak, western red cedar, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, walnut, catalpa, olive, and pecan
Grasses, such as Timothy, Johnson, Bermuda, orchard, sweet vernal, red top, and some blue grasses
Weeds, such as ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, tumbleweed, Russian thistle, and cockle weed
Most flowering plants, such as roses, have heavier, waxy pollens that are not as easily wind-blown.
Why Do Some People Suffer From These Allergies While Others Don’t
The short answer: we really don’t know.
Genetics are at least part of the reason having a parent with a pollen allergy makes it more likely you’ll have one as well. And scientists have begun identifying some genes that seem to be linked to the condition.
But it’s clear environmental factors play a role in determining whether you’ll experience allergies, as well. In the United States, rates of all sorts of allergies have been increasing in recent years, especially in children. Many scientists blame this on something called the hygiene hypothesis the idea that growing up in an overly clean, sterilized environment somehow messes with the natural development of the immune system, making it more prone to errors, like mistaking a harmless pollen grain for an invader.
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Pollen Allergies Are Seasonal
The season for pollen allergies can last for several months and occurs when the plants are flowering. This will vary depending on location and the type of plant. For instance:
- Non-native trees tend to pollinate in late winter and spring.
- In Victoria, winds from the north tend to bring pollen from non-native grasses growing inland between October and December.
- White Cypress pine is the only Australian tree that produces highly allergenic pollen and it flowers approximately between late July and the end of August.
- Species of Casuarina or Australian oak trees produce pollen throughout the year and can cause hay fever symptoms at any time.
Clinical immunology/allergy specialists who diagnose allergies have online calendars showing when common species of pollen cause allergies in the states and territories of Australia.
What Is Oral Allergy Syndrome And How Is It Related To Pollen Allergy
If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction in your mouth or throat when you eat certain fruits, vegetables, or nuts, it may be related to a pollen allergy. This is called oral allergy syndrome .
OAS happens because some tree, grass, or weed pollen is similar to the protein in some fruits, vegetables, and nuts.3 Your immune system gets confused and cant tell the difference between the two. Eating these foods may cause your mouth, lips, tongue, and throat to itch or swell. These foods may include apples, cherries, pears, and more. Birch and alder tree pollen, as well as ragweed pollen, cause many OAS food reactions.
If you think you may have OAS, talk with an allergist.
Oral allergy syndrome happens because some tree, grass, or weed pollen is similar to the protein in some fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Eating these foods may cause your mouth, lips, tongue, and throat to itch or swell.
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Can Allergies Make You Feel Hot
Hot flashes and chills are symptoms that are never linked to allergies. 3. You feel pain in your cheeks. While allergies can trigger sinus pressure around the eyes and temples, pain that extends through the cheeks and even to the teeth can signal inflammatory build-up that’s common in sinus infections not allergies.
Dust Allergies And Coughing
Now that weve established why do we actually cough, its easier to judge whether we can cough during allergies or not. Its pretty easy to understand that if our body is constantly coughing then theres definitely something wrong with our throat or lungs. Its the first red sign. However, if we talk about allergies then yes allergies can cause coughing. Our immune system is basically using coughing as a defensive action against anything that might have wandered into our bodies. People who have dust allergies are usually the ones who start coughing when they get an allergic attack. Meaning if your body inhales pollen or dust particles, it would rebel against it by coughing it all out.
While all of this is happening your body will release chemicals like histamine that would produce cold-like symptoms such as a stuffed or runny nose, sore throat, etc.
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Symptoms Of A Pollen Allergy
Allergies occur when harmless water-soluble proteins released by pollen enter the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. If youre susceptible to allergies, your immune system mistakes pollen for invading germs. Your body triggers a complex process whereby it generates chemicals such as histamine to irritate the nerves, which leads to itching and sneezing in an attempt to expel the pollen.5 6
Symptoms of a pollen allergy vary from person to person. You may experience bouts of sneezing. This seemingly annoying reaction helps physically expel the pollen from your system, and it also serves as a red flag to tell you there is a high pollen count and you should leave the area if possible.7 In conjunction with sneezing, you may experience additional issues with your nose and eyes. To learn more about these symptoms, visit our Understanding Allergy Symptoms page.8
Pollen Allergy Causes Allergic Rhinitis
The correct name for hay fever is seasonal allergic rhinitis. Symptoms are caused by the body’s immune response to inhaled pollen, resulting in chronic inflammation of the eyes and nasal passages.
Allergic rhinitis symptoms include:
- Irritable, itchy, watery and red eyes.
- Itchy ears, throat and palate.
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Hay Fever Symptoms From Pollen Allergies
Hay fever may also be referred to as seasonal allergic rhinitis, if the symptoms appear only when it is pollen season. Hay fever originally only referred to allergies caused by grass pollens, but the term is now also used to describe the symptoms of rhinitis . This can occur throughout the year.
Allergies to pollen commonly cause symptoms of hay fever including:
- runny, itchy, congested nose
- irritable, itchy, watery and red eyes
- itchy ears, throat and palate.
People with hay fever are more likely to develop sinus infections, and can have interrupted sleep that leads to extreme tiredness. Severe hay fever symptoms can affect learning in children and productivity in adults. Hay fever can also make it more difficult to control asthma in those who are more likely to get it.
Things That Make It Worse
1. Warm, windy days. Wind picks up dry pollen and sends it into the air. When it’s cold or damp, pollen counts are usually lower.
2. Certain fruits and vegetables. If you have nasal allergies to certain trees, you have a higher risk of allergic symptoms from some of these foods. For instance, if you’re allergic to birch trees, you may get itchiness or swelling in your mouth or around your face after eating almonds, apples, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears, or plums.
3. Having trigger trees in your yard. How close you live to a tree makes a big difference. When one’s in your own yard, it could expose you to 10 times as much pollen as a tree down the street.
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Can Allergies Be Prevented
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent the manifestation of adult-onset allergies. As we mentioned, these allergies sometimes spring up where none existed before. Other times, exposure to the allergen triggers a reaction. For those reasons, its difficult to say with certainty which triggers you should avoid.
While you cant always prevent adult-onset allergies, you can treat them as they develop. If, for instance, you notice you get an adverse reaction after eating shellfish or peanuts, you should refrain from eating these foods right away. Instead, set up an appointment with an allergy provider who can test your to see what is causing your symptoms
In the case of food allergies, the best treatment is avoidance. For pet dander, pollen, and other standard allergy triggers, you can try medications, including steroid nasal sprays and antihistamines, to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. You can also try to keep yourself away from these allergens via lifestyle adjustments.
What Are Some Ways Of Pollen Allergy Treatment
Although pollen allergy is very unlikely to go away once developed, the symptoms can be treated along with pollen allergy remedies at home – by one or more of these following ways
Using nasal irrigation tools, you can flush pollen out of your nasal passages with warm water and salt. Ensure you understand from under a doctors supervision how to do this.
Antihistamines block the histamines your body makes which are primarily responsible for you having allergic reactions. These should be taken, in consultation with your doctor, before the onset of peak pollen season.
Nasal sprays help decongest stuffy nasal passages. Decongestants are also available as pills, liquids and drops if nasal sprays are not comfortable to you.
Allergy shots or Immunotherapy
Allergy shots gradually desensitize your body to pollen and can provide long lasting symptom relief.
It is best to consult with your doctor to narrow down the best treatment for your pollen allergies.
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Living With A Pollen Allergy
If you have a pollen allergy, the best thing you can do is to avoid being exposed to pollen. You can do this by:
- staying indoors until after midday on windy days and during the pollen season
- avoiding going outside after thunderstorms, particularly when there are high pollen counts
- protecting your eyes with sunglasses, showering when you arrive home, and rinsing your eyes with water
- avoiding mowing the grass, or wear a mask if you have to go near mown grass
- keeping windows closed at home and in the car, and using recirculating air conditioning in the car
- not picnicking in parts or the country during the pollen season
- removing any weeds that trigger your symptoms from around your house, especially from outside your bedroom window
If you are exposed to pollen, rinse your eyes with water and take an antihistamine.
How Are Allergies Diagnosed
If you think you have allergies, don’t wait to see if your symptoms go away. When your symptoms last longer than a week or two and tend to come back, make an appointment with an allergy/immunology specialist.
Allergy skin testing may be used to identify the allergens that are causing your allergy symptoms. The test is performed by pricking your skin with an extract of an allergen, and then checking your skins reaction.
If a skin test cant be performed, blood work may be obtained. This test is not as sensitive as a skin test. The test evaluates the number of antibodies produced by your immune system. Higher levels of certain antibodies suggest possible allergy to that allergen.
Other types of allergy testing are available too.
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What Are The Different Types Of Pollen Allergy
Types of pollen differs from plant to plant and there are several hundred plants that release pollen into the air and cause allergic reactions. Which is why, it is quite possible that a particular type of pollen might not affect two different people the same way.
For e.g., Person A might be allergic to grass pollen. So, when he is around ragweed pollen, his allergic reactions might not get triggered.
Seasonal changes can also trigger a pollen allergy as they play a key role in pollen count. Some of the most common allergens are
Articles On Seasonal Allergies
Do your eyes water on windy days? Are you always stuffy when it rains? That’s no surprise. Weather is a common allergy trigger.
The connection between your symptoms and the weather depends on what youâre allergic to. Here are a few common triggers:
- Dry, windy days. Wind blows pollen into the air, causing hay fever. If you have pollen allergies, shut the windows and stay indoors on windy days.
- Rainy or humid days. Moisture makes mold grow, both indoors and out. Dust mites also thrive in humid air. But if you’re allergic to pollen, humid or damp days are good. The moisture weighs down the pollen, keeping it on the ground.
- Cold air. Many people with allergic asthma find that cold air is a problem, especially when they exercise outside. It can trigger a coughing fit.
- Heat. Air pollution is worst on hot summer days. Ozone and smog can be a serious trigger for people with allergic asthma.
The change of seasons also has a big effect on allergies.
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