What Exactly Is a Pollen Allergy?

Guest Author: Kristen Stewart

A lot of people get the sniffles seasonally. They might blame it on catching a cold. And they might not have the same symptoms as a lot of other people, too. But there’s reason to dive deeper into what those symptoms are and whether or not they might be something different than a cold – namely, seasonal allergies, such as a reaction to pollen.


   Pollen is a natural substance; if you’ve ever looked at a flower bloom you’ve probably seen pollen. It’s yellow and acts as a fertilizer between male and female plants. It’s definitely on the upswing in spring, summer, and fall, and it’s incredibly common across the country. When it gets hotter and windier, it blows around, too, making it almost impossible to avoid. That means tens of millions of people are likely to have some reaction to pollen.

Want to know more about it?

This graphic explains it.

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 you’re 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.8Pollen Allergy Symptoms.

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO A POLLEN ALLERGY

Many people wonder if pollen allergies are genetic. Researchers are still studying this question, but studies suggest that yes, a hereditary component is involved. Having a blood relative with allergies or asthma increases your risk of having one or more allergies — though the specific type is not passed down, just the increased odds. To complicate the matter more, prolonged exposure to the allergen also plays a role in whether or not you develop allergies. Even if you have a genetic susceptibility, you may not develop a problem if you mostly avoid the allergen. Having asthma, atopic dermatitis, and/or allergies to other triggers can also increase your risk.9

If you’ve made it into your 20s, 30s, or 40s without allergies, you may wonder if you’re home free. Not necessarily. It is possible for adults to develop allergies to pollen and other triggers even into middle age. In general, the number of individuals suffering from hay fever is increasing in both the United States and around the world.10

Experts aren’t sure why numbers are rising but speculate more airborne pollutants and dust mite populations coupled with less ventilation in our homes and workplaces could play a role. Unhealthy habits including poor diet and not enough exercise may also contribute. The hygiene hypothesis — the idea that we live and eat in a relatively sanitary environment, so our immune systems don’t have enough work to do and instead overreact to allergens — is another possibility. Other theories include finally reaching an exposure threshold for an allergy to develop, living in a new area with different trees, plants, and grasses, or adopting a pet.11

Once you reach middle age, however, your chance of developing allergies to pollen decreases. The immune system weakens as you grow older, so it’s less likely for it to experience a hyper-allergic reaction.12

TREATMENT OF POLLEN ALLERGIES

The good news? There are many ways you can manage and treat pollen allergies.

CONCLUSION

Life with allergies is miserable but instead of waiting for pollen to stop falling to resume your activities, try some of these suggestions to take charge of your life today. Maybe you’ll find spring isn’t so bad after all.


Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is a freelance writer specializing in health and lifestyle topics. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three kids and two very needy cats.


[1]https://www.aafa.org/allergy-facts/
[2]https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/pollination
[3]https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/
[4]https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-dictionary/pollen
[5]https://www.ecarf.org/en/information-portal/allergies-overview/pollen-allergy/
[6]https://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-guide/understanding-allergies/types/why-pollen-causes-sneezing
[7]https://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-guide/understanding-allergies/types/why-pollen-causes-sneezing
[8]https://www.ecarf.org/en/information-portal/allergies-overview/pollen-allergy/
[9]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20373039
[10]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4829390/
[11]https://acaai.org/news/rise-spring-allergies-fact-or-fiction
[12]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5362176/
[13]https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-dictionary/pollen
[14]https://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-guide/outdoors/best-times-low-pollen-count
[15]https://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-guide/understanding-allergies/types/weed-pollen
[16]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423906/
[17]https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/
[18]https://acaai.org/allergies/allergy-treatment/air-filters
[19]https://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-guide/understanding-allergies/types/weed-pollen
[20]https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/
[21]https://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-guide/understanding-allergies/types/weed-pollen
[22]https://www.aafa.org/pollen-allergy/
[23]https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000549.htm
[24]https://blogs.bcm.edu/2014/06/25/ten-tips-to-avoid-sinus-infections/
[25]https://acaai.org/allergies/allergy-treatment/allergy-immunotherapy/allergy-shots

Thank you for sharing Kristin!
Sincerely,
Sarah

Seasonal Allergies – Or Something Else?

Is it seasonal allergies you are dealing with? Or could it be something else?

Having battled with what I assumed was seasonal allergies for several years and then I started reading about wheat and gluten intolerance and I noticed that the symptoms I had not only matched seasonal allergies but also could fit for wheat allergy.

If you have a wheat allergy you are likely to develop symptoms within minutes to hours after eating something containing wheat.

Wheat allergy symptoms include:
• Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
• Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
• Nasal congestion
• Headache
• Itchy, watery eyes
• Difficulty breathing
• Cramps, nausea or vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Anaphylaxis

For some people, wheat allergy may cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

In addition to other signs and symptoms of wheat allergy, anaphylaxis may cause:
• Swelling or tightness of the throat
• Chest pain or tightness
• Severe difficulty breathing
• Trouble swallowing
• Pale, blue skin color
• Dizziness or fainting
• Fast heartbeat
*If you experience any of the above extreme symptoms please go to the ER.

Nasal congestion, extreme sometimes debilitating headache on one side of my head, watery eyes – that was me.
Having tried and had pretty good success with essential oils, which I am sure cleared the gluten from my system, allowing relief, I had assumed my “seasonal environmental” allergies were cured only to come back over time.

In frustration, and despite my knowledge and belief that medication does not fix – only covers symptoms, for relief and to be able to function day to day in my job, I had turned to trying pharmaceuticals. Advil Cold and Sinus as well as Zyrtec D, both of which contain pseudophedrine (having a gigantic list of dangerous side effects). I knew this wasn’t the answer, but was thankful for the break.

In doing some research I came across Dr. William Davis, Cardiologist, Author and Health Crusader’s website based on his book “Wheat Belly”.

In reading through the blog posts I became more and more convinced this could possibly be part of my problem.

The wheat of today is not the same plant it was in our grandparent’s years.

It’s a completely new genetically modified grain, which is the product of 40 years of genetics research aimed at increasing yield-per-acre, not nutritional value.
The result is a genetically unique plant that stands 18-24 inches tall, not 4 1/2-foot tall wheat that nature created.

Watch the video:

The Gluten & Gliadin present within wheat (also Rye and Barley) creates an auto immune response from your body that literally turns your body’s defenses against itself. This causes inflammation, which leads to a variety of illness (mental and physical) as well as general body pain.

Deciding to test it out – I stopped eating anything containing wheat.

I noticed results right away.
-Within the first week I had less headaches and less fogginess.
-By week two I was no longer feeling the need to take or even carry allergy medication (just in case) around with me.
-By the end of week two my headaches, watery eyes, foggy feeling and as a bonus 5 lbs were all gone.

-My belt loop moved in two notches and I felt less bloated (though honestly I did not realize I had felt bloated in the first place).

Then I did something truly stupid.

I was not thinking and a friend made me dinner, which included home made ravioli.
They were delicious.
However, 15-20 minutes after we finished eating I began feeling worse and worse.
My eye started watering down my face, my head felt like someone stuck a fork in my temple, I was hot and my sinuses were becoming very stuffy – feeling like my head was stuffed with cotton batting.

As uncomfortable as this was, it of course passed and was a wonderful verification that wheat was in fact the culprit.

Test Yourself!

What do you have to lose? – If you are experiencing horrible allergy symptoms and cant seem to find permanent relief stop eating wheat for a week or two.

I think you just might be pleasantly surprised!

Come back and post your personal results – We would love to hear them!

*Last additional note: If you are having major cravings for carbs/wheat/sugar – you may want to consider doing a Candida cleanse. CandidaEx from Universal Formulas is the best one I have found.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wheat-allergy/basics/symptoms/con-20031834

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