Am I Allergic to Pollen From Grass?

Lots of people are allergic to the pollen that comes from grasses. It brings on symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and a cough.

It’s not just your lawn. There are hundreds of types of grasses. The kinds that often trigger allergies include:

  • Bermuda
  • Johnson
  • Kentucky
  • Orchard
  • Redtop
  • Rye
  • Sweet vernal
  • Timothy

You may be allergic to only one type of grass or to many.

When Do Grass Pollen Allergies Strike?

Grasses tend to start growing in the early spring. In the late spring and early summer, they release pollen into the air. The wind can carry it for miles.

Grass pollen is microscopic. You may not see it in the air. But if you're allergic, your body may react even to small amounts.

What Makes It Worse?

Dry, windy days. Wind carries pollen in the air, especially when it's dry and sunny. When it's cold or damp, pollen counts are usually lower.

Certain foods. If you're allergic to grasses, your symptoms are more likely to be triggered by particular fruits and vegetables that have proteins like those in pollen. Fresh celery, melons, peaches, oranges, and tomatoes may give you an itchy feeling in your mouth.

Unmowed lawn. Most types of grass release pollen only when they grow tall. The pollen comes from a feathery flower that grows at the top. If you keep your lawn mowed, it's less likely to release pollen. But Bermuda grass and some other types can still release the sneezy stuff even if you keep it short.

What to Do

Get tested. It’s the only way to know if you really are allergic to grasses, or if something else causes your symptoms.

Avoid your triggers. Close windows on windy, summer days. Wear a mask when you garden.

Rethink your lawn. It may seem drastic, but if you're sure that grasses in your yard are causing your symptoms, you could remove them. It might help to replace them with bunch grasses -- like perennial rye grass and tall fescue. These types don't flower and release pollen until they're 12 inches or taller.

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Other allergy-safe options for your yard include ivy (be careful, though, because it spreads) and Irish moss. Or you could landscape with other types of plants that will do well with the sun, soil, and water you usually get. You might even totally redo it, with a mix of flowers, trees, succulents (especially if you live in an area that often gets droughts), herbs, or vegetables.

Treat it. Both over the counter and prescription medications can help ease or prevent allergy symptoms. Allergy shots or tablets or drops you take by mouth are another option that doctors call immunotherapy. It can ease, and sometimes end, your grass allergies.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on October 20, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: "Pollen Allergy."

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: "Allergy Friendly Gardening," "Outdoor Allergens: Tips to Remember,"

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Oral Allergy Syndrome."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Pollen Allergy."

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: "Sneezeless Landscaping." 

News release, FDA.

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