July 8, 2020

Tree Pollen Allergies: What You Need to Know

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When allergy season starts, causing you to sniffle and sneeze, tree pollen is usually to blame. Trees start producing pollen as early as January in the Southern U.S. and can continue to produce through the summer.

Tree pollens that trigger allergies can be very fine and powdery. Because of this, the wind can carry it for miles! These light, dry grains can easily find their way to your nose, sinuses, lungs and eyes, making them hard to avoid and often triggering allergy symptoms.

What Are Symptoms of a Tree Pollen Allergy?

Tree pollen allergy symptoms are most commonly known as “hay fever.” Pollen released by trees, as well as grasses and weeds, cause these symptoms. They include:

  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth
  • Red and watery eyes or “burning” eyes
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Sinusitis

What Trees Cause the Most Allergy Symptoms?

Some trees can cause more trouble for allergy sufferers than others. Mountain cedar, for example, is notorious for causing symptoms for allergy sufferers in Texas from December to February as it releases huge puffs of pollen visible to the naked eye and can often look like smoke in the air. Maple and oak are other  prevalent and problematic trees, as they seem to also cause severe symptoms for allergy sufferers as there is not much of an “escape” from them.

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.

Here’s a list of trees are what we find cause the most symptoms:

  • Acacia
  • Alder
  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Box elder
  • Cedar or Mountain Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Elm
  • Hickory
  • Juniper
  • Mountain elder
  • Mulberry
  • Oak
  • Olive
  • Pecan
  • Poplar
  • Walnut
  • Willow

What Can I Do to Relieve My Tree Pollen Allergy Symptoms?

Thankfully, there are several options for relieving pollen allergy symptoms, available both over-the-counter and by prescription. If tree pollen allergies are severe enough, we recommend immunotherapy, which is a long-term treatment that can reduce the severity of your allergic reactions for many years and for some, permanently. It usually involves regular allergy shots, allergy drops taken under the tongue, or ExACT Immunoplasty, which can eliminate allergies in just eight weeks.

You can also take steps to reduce your exposure to tree pollen:

  • Learn about the trees in your area and when they produce the most pollen. For example, oak tree pollen is highest in the morning. If you are allergic to oak pollen, save your outdoor activities for later in the day.
  • Watch pollen counts on a website like pollen.com
  • Keep your windows closed and use an air filter on your central air conditioner.
  • Avoid pets that spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • Dry your clothes in a dryer and not outside on a clothesline.
  • Change and wash clothes you wear during outdoor activities.

Are There Things That Can Make My Tree Pollen Allergies Worse?

Yes! There are certain conditions that can exaggerate or intensify your tree pollen allergies.

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

Certain fruits and vegetables. If you have allergies to certain trees, you have a higher risk of allergic symptoms from cross-reactive 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. If you experience allergy symptoms when eating certain foods, you’ll want to talk to an allergist to see what’s causing the symptoms.

Having trigger trees in your yard. How close you live to a tree makes a big difference. When in your own yard, it could expose you to 10 times as much pollen as a tree down the street. If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms to trees in your own yard, you could consider replacing it with one that’s less likely to cause allergies, like apple, cherry, dogwood, fir, or pine trees.

If you’re interested in learning more about what is triggering your allergy symptoms, visit your local allergy clinic and start immunotherapy. An allergy test will give you the answers you need to find a treatment plan that is right for you. Schedule your appointment today at Aspire Allergy & Sinus with one of our certified allergy specialists.

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