Seasonal Allergies: Grass Pollen
Pollen, many people think of flowers, weeds, and trees when they hear the word but grass pollen also appears it during the late spring months. Grass is one of the bothersome allergens that may cause seasonal allergies. Allergies can be caused by the bodies overreaction to a harmless substance, mistaking it for a dangerous one. Pollen and mold spores can be triggers for seasonal allergies, but pet dander, dust mites, and food also cause allergies.
Allergies to pets and foods can often be avoided by eliminating exposure to the bothersome allergen, however, with pollen, it’s not so easy. Pollens are light and easily spread by the wind, making it a challenge to avoid coming in contact with it. Some common grass pollen we see in our pollen counts are Kentucky bluegrass, bermuda, redtop, orchard and timothy grasses.
Common allergy symptoms those with grass pollen allergies experience are:
- Sinus Congestion
- Runny Nose
- Post Nasal Drip
- Itchy or Watery Eyes
Some also experience headaches, a sore throat, and fatigue due to their allergies.
When is grass pollen season?
In our pollen counts, we have found that grass pollen levels rise beginning in late Spring during May and last into the summer months. We usually see peak levels earlier in the summer, but grass pollen can stick around well into August.
Tips to combat grass pollen season:
The main way to combat grass pollen is to limit your exposure to grass.
1. Mowing the Grass
Allergies don’t have to be an excuse to get out of mowing the grass, but they can be! When mowing the grass, we recommend wearing an N95 respirator mask. These masks are rated by the CDC to filter out 95% of airborne particulates, reducing the amount of pollen you encounter while mowing and doing other yard work.
2. Wear long pants
When you are out working in the yard, out at a park, or hiking we recommend wearing long pants. This added layer of protection helps reduce the amount of pollen that comes in direct contact with your skin. Long sleeve shirts can also protect your arms from contact.
3. Change clothes when you come in from being outside
After spending the day outside, change into a fresh set of clothes. This will help reduce the pollen transferred from your clothes to your furniture as you take a rest inside. It may also be a good idea to shower to remove pollen from your hair before you head to bed for the night.
4. Keep your doors and windows closed
When the weather finally warms up after winter we often want to air out the house by opening windows and leaving the door open. However, this allows pollen to enter your home and can increase your exposure to grass pollen in the spring months. Keeping them closed and letting your HVAC system filter out the air can help reduce pollen in your home.
5. Monitor pollen counts
We also encourage patients to monitor pollen counts to be aware of what pollen is high when spending time outside. This can help them dress and plan accordingly. Our doctors run pollen counting stations in a couple of regions, but regional counts can also be found at the National Allergy Bureau website.
Treatment of Grass Allergies
When avoidance isn’t possible, our physicians can recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to help ease allergy symptoms. When our patient’s allergies are not well controlled with medication, our doctors may recommend immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a treatment that builds up your bodies tolerance to bothersome allergens. Often immunotherapy is given in shots, so it is commonly referred to as allergy shots. It often takes months for patients to start feeling relief as their body learns the allergen is harmless. However, we offer rush and cluster schedules to reduce that time. Prescription tablets are available to address specific grasses allergies, although unlike shots, they do not address the other allergies the patients have.
If these tips aren’t enough and you still find yourself with allergy symptoms every spring or fall, we recommend getting allergy tested. Our doctors can determine precisely what you are allergic to and recommend treatment options to help you find relief.