Pollen is a tiny powder-like substance produced by certain types of trees, grasses and weeds. It is spread by insects and the wind. An allergy to grass or hay pollen is known as hay fever. The term ‘hay fever’ is now also widely used to include allergies to other pollens (such as trees and weeds).
Hay fever is very common. Teenagers and young adults are most commonly affected, although it can develop any at age. The condition is more common in boys than in girls. In adults, men and women are equally affected.
Hay fever and asthma are closely linked. Research results vary but it’s thought that between 20% and 60% of people with hay fever also have asthma. Approximately 80% of people with asthma also have a pollen allergy (which means their asthma symptoms are triggered by pollen).
The most common symptoms of hay fever are:
Other symptoms include:
How pollen can increase your risk of an asthma attack?
Pollen contains proteins that are harmless for most people. In people with hay fever these proteins cause the immune system to overreact and release chemical called histamine. This chemical causes the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses
to become swollen, irritated and inflamed. For many people with asthma, this release of histamine (caused by hay fever
) can make asthma symptoms
Having a blocked nose can also affect asthma control. Usually when you breathe in, you breathe in through your nose so the air is warmed and moistened by the nasal passages. When you breathe in through your mouth, the air you’re inhaling is colder and drier. In some people with asthma, the airways are sensitive to this and react. This can lead to asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, a shortness of breath and tightness in the chest
How to know if pollen is your trigger?
If you or your child has an allergy to pollen, you will typically get allergy symptoms (itching, redness and swelling) within short while of coming into contact with pollen, although the reaction can sometimes be delayed.
Your allergic expert
may prescribe some medicines to see if they help your symptoms. He may refer you for a skin prick test or blood test
to confirm whether or not you’re allergic to pollen and to identify which pollen(s) you’re allergic to.
When is pollen most likely to affect you?
There are hundreds of different types of grasses, trees and weeds around the world. Different types of pollen are released at different times of the year in different parts of the world. Tree pollens, grass pollens and weed pollens are some of the common pollens that trigger allergy reactions.
If you know pollen is a trigger for your asthma, book an appointment with a nearby allergist