So, what are people allergic to?
Though everyone’s allergies are unique, here is the list of usual suspects. Understanding which allergens trigger your symptoms is the first step in finding relief for your outdoor (also called seasonal) allergies.
Grass Pollen Allergies
Although more than 1,000 species of grass grow in North America, only a few produce highly allergenic pollen. That’s small comfort if you’re one of the millions of people affected by grass pollen. The most common grasses that can cause allergies are Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Orchard grass, Sweet vernal grass, and Timothy grass. Grass pollen is most common in spring to early summer.
If you are allergic to grass pollen and have a grass lawn, have someone else do the mowing. If you must mow the lawn yourself, wear a mask. Keep the grass cut short. Consider ground covers that don’t produce much pollen, such as Irish moss, bunch and dichondra. You should remember that pollen can also be transported indoors on people and pets, so vacuum frequently.
Tree Pollen Allergies
When you think seasonal allergies do you think tree pollen? You should. Tree pollen is one of the worst allergy offenders. First, it has a jump on all other pollen producers. In the South, for example, trees start releasing their pollen as early as January. What’s more, trees produce light, dry pollen that can be carried by the wind for miles.
Fortunately, fewer than 100 species (out of 50,000) are known to cause allergies. Some common examples include: elm, sycamore, hickory, walnut, and pecan.
In certain species, it’s only the male tree that causes problems. Their female counterparts are completely pollen free. Poplar, cottonwood, box elder, red maple, silver maple, willow, ash, date palm and Phoenix palm trees all fall into this category.
Though less common, it is possible to be allergic to more than one tree. Some people have cross-reactions to trees in the alder, beech, birch, and oak families, as well as the juniper and cedar families.
Weed Pollen Allergies
We all know weeds. They multiply fast. But did you also know they’re the most prolific producers of pollen? Ragweed is by far the biggest troublemaker. A single ragweed plant can produce a million grains of pollen a day. Yes, a million. But there are plenty of other high-producing allergenic plants: sagebrush, redroot pigweed, lamb’s quarters, Russian thistle (aka tumbleweed) and English plantain.
The season for ragweed pollen runs from August to November, but mid-September, can be the worst time, when pollen levels peak. Also, beaware that pollen counts are at their highest between the hours of five and ten a.m. Another thing to keep in mind: allergies can be aggravated by dry, hot, and windy conditions.
Hay Fever Allergies
Hay fever is a catchall term generally used to refer to seasonal allergies such as grass, weed, and tree pollens.