It is terrifying to find how fine powders upon entering the body can cause adverse immune responses, sometimes so deadly that if not treated properly can even lead to death. We are talking about pollen allergy that has become a potential threat for our health.
According to a research conducted by the Times of India, it has been seen that around 33% of people suffer from pollen allergy every year and the number of cases has been rising for the past few years.
The more alarming fact is that most of the people are not aware of pollen allergy and hence are not able to take proper medications and treatments on time leading to some serious complications in the future.
So in this article let’s get to know more about this new threat!
What is pollen allergy?
Pollen is a fine powdery substance produced by trees, flowers, grasses and weeds which contains the gametes that are used to fertilize plants of the same species.
People suffering from pollen allergy upon coming in contact with pollen leads to a condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally. Otherwise, the harmless pollen grain is now considered as a dangerous intruder by the body and therefore it starts producing chemicals to fight against the intrusion causing the common allergic symptoms.
Pollen allergy is also known as ‘Hay fever’ or ‘Allergic rhinitis’ and is one of the most common causes of allergies in the world.
Types of Pollen Allergy
Pollen allergy is caused by grasses, weeds, flowers and trees. Causes of pollen allergy can be very varied as there are hundreds of plants that produce pollen and causes allergies but listed down below are some of the most common ones
- Grass pollen allergy- One of the most common types of pollen allergy, grasses can produce allergies that are severe and most difficult to treat. Grass pollen allergy is generally caused during the summer season and as it can be quite hazardous for health, allergy shots and allergy tablets are used to effectively cure them.
- Ragweed pollen allergy- One of the most common weed pollen allergy, this type of allergy is seen during late spring or early fall. Sometimes it also has been observed that the allergy season starts from early July and continue up to late October or sometimes can even withstand some mild winter.
- Birch and oak pollen allergy- This type of pollen allergy is seen during the springtime. A single birch or oak tree can produce up to 5 million pollens and it can also travel up to 100 yards. Although considered to be mildly allergenic, it can stay in the air for a longer period and thus also increases the chance of infection.
With the help of your doctor, always diagnose first to check whether are you susceptible to pollen allergy or not.
The most common diagnosis processes are
- Skin prick test- Small amount of various types of allergen is inserted onto your skin. If found allergic, then within 10 to 15 minutes, swelling, redness or itchiness will start and you will get to see raised round hives like structure on your skin
- Specific IgE blood testing- Also known as RAST or immunoCAP test, here blood is taken from your body and reacted with different types of allergens. The amount of antibodies that the blood produces against the allergens is counted through this test and if found allergic, then the antibodies quantity would be very high.
Pollen Allergy Symptoms
When a person breathes in air that is heavy with pollen, the pollen releases water-soluble proteins on the respiratory lining. The proteins are harmless but our body mistook it as a foreign intruder and recognise it as a harmful substance.
Our body then starts making and releasing IgE antibodies which attaches itself to the mast cells which in turn releases histamine.
Histamine is the main substance responsible for pollen allergy symptoms.
Therefore, if you suffer from pollen allergy or breathe in a pollen heavy air, then you will observe the following symptoms
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Increase in sinus pressure causing unbearable facial pain
- Itchy watery eyes
- Swollen bluish coloured skin under the eyes
- Scratchy throat and cough
- A decrease in sense of taste and smell
- Hay fever
- Increased asthmatic reactions
Precautions to be taken
The best precaution you can take against pollen allergy is to AVOID THE ALLERGEN.
- Stay indoors during the peak allergy seasons. Let others take care of the gardening duties during those seasons.
- Wear a dust mask if going out and always check the pollen count in air through newspaper or internet.
- If you have to go outside, then immediately after returning, discard your clothing into the laundry bag and thoroughly wash it.
- If you noticed a rise in pollen count, close all doors and windows and do not step outside.
- Know which pollen type you are allergic to and start raking medications accordingly.
Pollen Allergy Treatments
If symptoms of pollen allergy develop, then it does not go away easily but with proper treatment and medications, it may get cured slowly and steadily
- Homemade remedies
- Invest in a good quality Portable High-Efficiency Particulate Air ( HEPA) filter or dehumidifier
- Use specific herbs or plant extracts to treat your allergic reactions
- Follow some precautions and avoid the allergen
If the allergy is a little milder, then with the help of some medications, it can be easily treated with these over-the-top medications
- Antihistamines drugs like Cetirizine or diphenhydramine
- Decongestants medicines like Pseudoephedrine or Oxymetazoline
- Medications which have combinations of both antihistamines and decongestant drugs like Actifed or Claritin-D.
- Allergy Shots
If a person suffers from an allergic reaction that is severe and cannot be easily treated with medications, then the treatment with allergy shots are generally prescribed.
Allergy shots are immunotherapy that involves a series of injections of the allergen into the body. The amount of allergen injected increases over time. This helps in modifying the immune response and also reduces the severity of the symptoms over a course of time. This is a long term treatment and can take up to one or three years for complete healing.
Pollen allergy is posing a serious threat to our health but with so much advancement in science, the solution to this problem is also present. We are sure that this article will provide some basic knowledge against pollen allergy and some basic precautions that you should keep in mind to stay away from it.