For three seasons out of every year, tiny particles called pollen are released from weeds, trees, and grasses with the apparent purpose of causing distress to a world full of allergy sufferers. The actual mission of pollen, however, is to hitch rides on air currents so that they can fertilize other plants miles away. Unfortunately, many never reach their intended targets and instead wind up in the nasal passages and throats of defenseless humans. For many of us, this triggers a type of allergic rhinitis also known as hay fever.
Research shows that more people actually suffer from pet allergies than they do from pollen allergies. So why list pollen as the number one most wanted? Because there is no escape. You can easily keep away from Fluffy and Fido if you need to, but try keeping away from an airborne allergy trigger like pollen which has been found hundreds of miles out to sea and 2 miles up? Unless you’re going to live in a bubble or on another planet, if you’re allergic to pollen, you simply don’t have any place to retreat.
The onslaught begins in spring months with the release of tree pollen. Tree pollen season across most of North America begins in March or April and winds down in June or July. In some southern states, the tree pollen outbreak can begin as early as January. Not all trees produce the type of pollen that can easily catch wind currents for distribution, and for some of those that do, the pollen does not seem to effect most people. The most common pollen producing trees that cause havoc with immune systems are as follows:
- Box Elder
To a lesser extent, Alder, Beech, the Birch and Oak family and the Juniper and Cedar family also release pollen that can cause allergy problems with some people. Please note that the female species of the trees listed in 8 thru 13 are totally pollen-free. It is only the male cultivars of those species that release pollen.
During the summer months is when the next pollen attacks occur. This is when the grasses unleash their fury. Thankfully, out of about 1,200 species of grass in North America, only very few release pollen that causes allergic reactions. The following grasses are the most common pollen producing grasses that allergy sufferers should try to avoid:
- Kentucky blue
- Sweet vernal
The final attack happens during the Autumn months and is usually the most impacting. This is the time of year for the weeds to get even with all of us pesky herbicide-spreading humans. Weeds are the most prolific producers of allergenic pollen among the big three and Ragweed is probably the most well known to allergy sufferers. A single ragweed plant can generate a million grains of pollen per day. Although Ragweed is a major player, there are others that can cause equivalent distress. The following list contains the eight heavy-hitters in North America:
- Lamb’s Quarter
- Marsh Elder
- Russian Thistle (tumbleweed)
So, how is one to defend themselves against the seemingly indefensible? The best way is to track daily pollen counts in your area and try to stay indoor during peak pollen times. Pollen counts tend to be highest during morning hours and on dry, windy days. Stay on top of your allergy medications and drink lots of fluids.
Side Note: – If you’re currently taking prescription or OTC allergy medications and you’re tired of dealing with the side-effects like rapid heart beat, drowsiness or fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, trouble sleeping, etc., then please read this for information that could be life changing.