It’s that time of year again. Those sweet smells in the air will be filled with blooming flowers, the pungent scent of clippings and pollen wafting about. The first whiff of a freshly cut lawn might send sneezing fits across your block, followed by the hassle of taking your favorite over-the-counter remedies or visiting the pharmacy for relief. For many, suffering through inconvenient grass allergies is an all-too-familiar springtime ritual. If this situation hits close to home, here is some information you need to know.
What is a Grass Allergy?
Grasses are one of the most common causes of allergies. Each year, plants (including grasses) release tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species. Unfortunately for people with grass allergies, this pollen triggers allergic reactions. You may not see the grass pollen in the air, but your body can react to even small amounts.
Many people know pollen allergy as “hay fever.” Experts usually refer to pollen allergy as “seasonal allergic rhinitis.”
When you have a grass allergy, your immune system reacts to the proteins in the plant’s pollen. These proteins are harmless for most people but cause a reaction in people with allergies. The immune system starts working hard to fight off these proteins, called allergens, and it releases chemicals such as histamine that cause allergy symptoms when it does this.
Common Types of Grass Allergies
Grasses are among the most common allergy triggers. If you have a grass pollen allergy, you may be allergic to more than one type of grass.
There are hundreds of grasses, but only a few are responsible for allergy symptoms. Your geographic location may determine which grasses may be responsible for your symptoms.
The most common types of grasses that cause allergies are:
Bermuda grass is a coarse-bladed, low-growing perennial found in many lawns throughout the southern and southwestern United States. It also grows in southern California and the Pacific Northwest, and Bermuda grass is the leading cause of pollen allergies in the southeastern United States.
Johnson grass is a perennial grass that can grow up to 10 feet tall and produces large amounts of pollen from June through September. Johnson grass is found primarily in the southeastern United States but has also been established in some western states.
Kentucky bluegrass is used to seed many home lawns in northern regions of the United States and Canada. It’s often found on golf courses and athletic fields due to its ability to grow
When is Grass Allergy Season?
Grass pollen can cause year-round symptoms for some folks. However, seasonal grass allergies tend to occur between May and July, although it varies depending on the location. Grass pollen levels are generally highest in the late afternoon and early evening.
The biggest issue with grass allergies is that they can persist all year in most regions, especially Florida. Some grasses shed their pollen toward the end of fall, but others pollinate over winter and spring. Even when one type dies back, another might take its place as the dominant allergens, so sufferers may find they have symptoms throughout many months of the year.
Grass pollen grains are lightweight and dry to travel far through the air. This means that even if you don’t live near fields or meadows where grass grows, you can still be exposed to grass pollen and suffer from symptoms.
What Happens During When You Are Allergic to Grass?
Allergies happen when your body’s defense system reacts to something usually not harmful. This response is called an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to grass pollen, your body reacts as if it is under attack. You may get a stuffy or runny nose or itchy eyes or skin when you come into contact with the pollen.
Grass allergy symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe, making life uncomfortable for many people with allergies. Symptoms can last several weeks at a time during the spring and summer seasons.
Managing Grass Allergy Symptoms
Treating your grass allergy symptoms is the first step toward relief. Some medicines can help control grass pollen allergy symptoms by blocking histamine, the substance that causes your body to react to the pollen. Nasal corticosteroids are the most effective treatment for nasal symptoms. Nasal corticosteroids are a safe, effective way to treat nasal congestion and inflammation. Other treatments include antihistamines (for milder symptoms) and leukotriene blockers (which also help with more moderate symptoms).
Grass Allergies: Conclusion
While there is no cure for seasonal allergies, many remedies exist to decrease and prevent symptoms. The key is finding the right one for you and sticking with it. An allergy specialist can help you create an effective treatment plan to help you get back to enjoying the springtime and finding relief from your grass allergies. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!