Are you allergic to tree pollen?
The symptoms of tree pollen allergy are similar to those seen with other seasonal allergies. Trees are the first plants to produce pollen each spring. If you have nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, watery, red or itchy eyes in February, March and April you may be allergic to tree pollen. In addition to nasal and eye symptoms, tree pollen can lead to asthma flares and cause coughing and wheezing, resulting in more frequent use of your inhaler during this season. Some people have contact urticaria and break out into localized hives where the tree pollen touches their body.
Which trees may be triggering your allergy symptoms?
As the trees start blooming in early spring, they release tiny grains of pollen that are scattered everywhere by the wind. Wind pollinating trees are the most likely cause of spring allergies. Fruit trees are insect pollinated and usually do not cause allergy symptoms. Most trees pollinate right after their leaves start to grow, but some also pollinate before and during full leaf development. By the time the trees are full of leaves, generally in the late spring, pollination has usually ended.
In the DFW area, trees that cause spring allergy symptoms include:
- Maple/Box Elder
Six Texas cities ranked within the top 60 metropolitan areas in the US having high pollen counts in The Allergy Capitals Spring 2018 Report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. McAllen and San Antonio were in the top five— Dallas was No. 31.
What can you do?
- Start early. If you have tree allergies, start medications a few weeks prior to when the season starts. This will help reduce your symptoms even before tree allergy season starts.
- Allergy immunotherapy or allergy shots “immunize” the body like a vaccine, decreasing sensitivity to allergens by delivering small amounts of the allergens to allow your immune system to become tolerant. Over time, allergy shots can cure your allergies or make them much more comfortable with little medication.
- SLIT, also known as allergy drops or sublingual immunotherapy is a treatment in which allergy drops are placed under your tongue. They can be done at home and help decrease your allergy symptoms in a way similar to allergy shots.
- Medications. An intranasal steroid such as fluticasone or triamcinolone can help decrease nasal and eye symptoms. The use of over-the-counter antihistamines like cetirizine, fexofenadine, levocetirizine, and loratadine may be helpful as well. The use of antihistamine eye drops can decrease itchy and watery eyes.
See an allergist
Our board-certified allergists at North Texas Allergy & Asthma Center can help determine which trees you are allergic to and help you get a handle on your tree allergies. We can do a simple skin test which includes small pricks on the back with various tree extracts. After a 20-minute wait, we will be able to tell you which trees are triggering your symptoms. We can advise you on allergen avoidance, tailor a medication plan just for you and recommend allergy shots or allergy drops. Don’t suffer. Come see us and enjoy the spring season!
ROSHNI FOSTER, MD, PhD
Board Certified Allergist