Have your allergies kicked up? Blame the trees. Trees release their pollen in early spring, but in warmer parts of the country, the pollen onslaught may start as early as late December. Pollen grains resemble a fine dust and are released by plants during blooming seasons, most notably spring and fall. Pollen carries the male DNA of the plant or tree. There are about 100 tree species that cause pollen allergies. Trees that are highly likely to induce allergic reactions include birch, elm, hazel, oak, and pine trees.
Tree pollen allergy can make a person miserable, and pollens are particularly potent in certain conditions. Consider these circumstances that heighten the pollen barrage:
- Mild, breezy days with cool evenings – You don’t need trees in your direct area for tree pollens to waft in. The wind can pick up the pollens and disperse them far and wide. This combination of weather is bad news for tree allergy sufferers.
- Thunderstorms – Rainy days are a welcome relief for allergy sufferers because they can drive down the pollen count. Thunderstorms can exacerbate symptoms, though, because strong winds can stir up pollens. Some people even get “thunderstorm asthma” as a result of the allergy-ridden weather. People with allergies should stay inside during storms.
- Certain vegetables and fruits – People who have pollen allergy have the same allergic reaction to some types of vegetables and fruits. That’s because certain pollens contain proteins that are similar to those found in varieties of fresh produce. People who are allergic to birch pollen, for example, may experience similar allergic reactions when they eat pears or apples.
- Proximity to trigger trees – People who are allergic to tree pollens will experience more severe symptoms when they are closely surrounded by trees.
The symptoms of tree allergies include the following:
- Itchy and watery eyes – Tree pollen allergy may cause inflammation, itchiness, or redness of the eyes. This can lead to crusted, dried eye mucus on the eyelids after waking up.
- Bags under the eyes – Tree pollen allergy may cause eye bags or dark circles around the eyes. These “allergic shiners” are congested blood vessels resulting from nasal inflammation.
- Rhinitis – Tree pollen allergy may cause a runny nose or nasal congestion, at times resulting in post-nasal drip.
- Cough or sore throat – Tree pollen allergy may also result in a scratchy or sore throat due to throat inflammation or post-nasal drip. People with allergy may also develop laryngitis.
It is almost impossible to totally avoid tree pollens during spring, but you can mitigate your misery by avoiding or limiting your exposure to the allergens.