Tree Pollen Allergy

You’ve got a problem with pollen. Do you know if the kind that bothers you comes from trees, and which ones to avoid?

It’s a common cause of allergy symptoms, especially in the early spring. And it’s not just about the trees in your yard.

What to Know

Tree pollens that trigger allergies tend to be very fine and powdery. The wind can carry them for miles.

Inhaling even small amounts can trigger allergy symptoms.

Trees that often set off allergies include:

  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Box elder
  • Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Elm
  • Hickory
  • Mountain elder
  • Mulberry
  • Oak
  • Pecan
  • Willow

People with tree pollen allergies sometimes assume that trees with colorful flowers -- like apple or cherry trees -- will trigger their symptoms. But flowering trees usually have bigger, stickier pollen that doesn't blow in the wind or cause symptoms.

3 Things That Make It Worse

1. Warm, windy days. Wind picks up dry pollen and sends it into the air. When it's cold or damp, pollen counts are usually lower.

2. Certain fruits and vegetables. If you have nasal allergies to certain trees, you have a higher risk of allergic symptoms from some of these foods. For instance, if you're allergic to birch trees, you may get itchiness or swelling in your mouth or around your face after eating almonds, apples, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears, or plums.

3. Having trigger trees in your yard. How close you live to a tree makes a big difference. When one's in your own yard, it could expose you to 10 times as much pollen as a tree down the street.

 

Tips to Manage Your Allergy

Get tested. It's important to know which trees trigger your allergies. Once you do, you can figure out how to minimize your exposure to their pollen.

Avoid contact. It’s simple: Stay inside when pollen counts are high. Keep your windows shut. If you are going outside wear a baseball cap, and when you come in, rinse your face (including eyebrows and nostrils) and wash your hands -- and you may even want to change your clothes. 

Remove trigger trees. If one in your yard clearly causes symptoms, prune back the branches to reduce the amount of pollen it releases. You could also take it out and replace it with one that’s less likely to cause allergies, like apple, cherry, dogwood, fir, or pine trees.

Treat it. Medicine -- antihistamines -- can ease or prevent allergy symptoms. Allergy shots and other forms of “immunotherapy” can also make a difference.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on November 28, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

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

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

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. 

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