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Grass pollen allergy

It’s that time of year again!  June and July is peak grass pollen season.  When you see the grass grow tall and get those little tuffs on top, beware….pollen will be blowing for miles.

Grass:  There are over 1200 species of grasses native to North America (10,000 world wide), but only a few of these are significant when it comes to allergies. Different grasses wind-pollinate during specific times of the year, depending on the location in the U.S.  Grasses in our area include bahia, bermuda, bluegrass, fescue, orchard, ryegrass, sweet vernal, and timothy. Further south, the grasses may pollinate most of the year!  This is important information for travelers with grass pollen allergy. Timothy grass is widely cultivated for hay and the most important commercially grown grass (more than alfalfa and clover!).  Golf courses typically have bermuda, kentucky bluegrass or ryegrass.

Grass pollen:  The pollen is primarily released in the morning.  All grass pollen grains are similar in appearance being spherical with 1 pore.  Within each grain, there are more than 20 active components (mostly proteins) that trigger the allergic reaction.  Most grasses share common allergens, so if you are allergic to one species, you are likely allergic to them all with the exception of Bermuda and Johnson grass.   Some patients who are wheat allergic may experience more significant grass pollen allergy symptoms as these are related.

Grass Pollen Allergy Symptoms:

Allergic rhinitis from grass is called grass pollinosis (commonly known as “hay fever”): sneezing attacks, clear runny nose, nasal itching, stuff nose, and fatigue, but NO fever.

Allergic conjunctivitis:  itchy, watery, and red eyes

Asthma: while the entire pollen is too large to be inhaled into the lung, the pollen can break apart into smaller pieces that when inhaled deeply, trigger cough, wheezing, chest tightness and/or shortness of breath.

While grass is fun to look at, mow, play soccer on and have picnics on, the pollen can wreak havoc on those who are allergic.  If you suffer from summer allergies or suspect grass allergy, at Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we can test for grass (and other pollen) and develop a specific treatment plan just for you.

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