Pollen Is An Airborne Allergen
Tree pollen, most prominent in March, can trigger allergies that are very fine and powdery, and the wind can carry them for miles. February 2023 through early June 2023 is tree pollen season. June, July, and August are months when the grass pollens are high, sometimes into September in a warm year. Grass and ragweed pollens are the most common cause. Tree pollen is usually active for about 4 months out of the year in the northern states. However, in the southern states where it gets warmer earlier in the year, tree pollen can be in full force for six whole months. Grass, trees, and ragweed pollens flourish during cool nights and warm days. Tree pollens can cause dark, blue-tinted circles under the eyes. “Allergic shiner”, the dark blue-tinted circles under the eyes, cause swelling of tissue and fluid buildup in and around the eyes.
Pollen from trees causes an occurrence in which the conjunctiva (membranes lining the eyelids and covering the white part of the eye) become inflamed or infected. Also called pinkeye. People suffering from eye allergy may experience blurred vision or “sticky eyes” (a mucus buildup in the eyes and the corners of the eyelids). At this point blood starts to pool, darkening the skin and creating dark circles. Seasonal allergies can occur at almost any age, and they usually develop around the age of 10 and peak in the early 20s. Flowers, bushes, and trees, the beauty of Spring, and the potential impact on our eyes. In 2018 a study revealed that hay fever alone causes nearly four million missed workdays each year, costing businesses more than 700 million dollars.
The Pollination Cycle
Tree pollination begins earliest in the year then there is grass pollination later in the spring and summer and ragweed in the late summer and fall. The allergy cycles are:
- Cycle 1: Winter and Early Spring (January to early April)
- Cycle 2: Late Spring and Early Summer (late April to July)
- Cycle 3: Late Summer and Fall (August to December).
We are in the last month of Cycle 1. The main reason for these pollens during this period is due to plant pollens spreading from plant to plant by the insects that visit them (entomophilous plants). Therefore, most of our pollen exposure is due to pollen in the air outdoors, and thus our allergies are due to wind-pollinated plants. Many times we cannot see it in the air and often do not know when the season starts until symptoms begin.
The wind is the driver for pollinating trees. Mold spores contribute to spring allergies during this period. However, they are most annoying in the fall. It is important to note that cross-reactivity between tree pollens is minimum. Some trees are inherently the same and the pollens are somewhat similar. Therefore, many tree pollens have unique features that make it difficult to create a single treatment for tree pollen allergy.
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are allergy symptoms occurring only during certain times of the year which is when allergens like mold spores and different types of pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds are present in the air.
Causes of Eye Allergies
- Pet dander
Trees That Cause The Most Symptoms
- Box elder
Your immune system cells will treat allergens like mold spores or pollen as a threat. The immune system reacts by releasing substances like histamine into the bloodstream to fight them. When releasing histamine into the bloodstream to fight them it can cause:
- Runny or stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Sinus congestion
- Sore throat
- Post-nasal drip
- Itchy nose or throat
- Itchy mouth or skin
- Fatigue(often due to poor-quality sleep as a result of nasal congestion)
Itchy, watery eyes and other symptoms like swollen are signs that you are allergic to something. These are usually small/foreign particles or substance like dust that gets into your eyes. Your body’s natural defense system releases histamine to fight these foreign substances. This results in an eye allergy which occurs when your immune system reacts, allergic conjunctivitis, to the presence of foreign like pollen and or mold or dust. Allergic conjunctivitis can cause eyelid discomfort and swelling. Not all people experience lid inflammation and other corneal irritation and scarring.
Ways To lesson The Impact Of Pollens
- Stay inside when the count is high
- Stay inside when it is windy and warm
- Go outside at the right time
- Know which pollens you are allergic to and respond accordingly
- Start your medication regimen early
- Close windows and doors
- Keep your home clear of dust and allergens
- Change furnace filters frequently
- Shower at night
- Premedicate with an antihistamine or put on a pollen mask before going outside
- Manage pet dander
- Beware of mold
(Source: Intermountain Healthcare)
Contact us immediately if you are experiencing eye symptoms that may be specific to tree pollens and or molds. We are here for you and can make recommendations so that you can enjoy your Spring.