Tree Pollen and Allergic Rhinitis

As we get closer to spring time, seasonal allergic rhinitis - or most commonly known as hay fever - begins. The symptoms for allergic rhinitis include sneezing, stuffy nose, itchiness and watery eyes. This is a trigger of the immune system which mistakenly identifies the pollen particles as a dangerous, and starts producing chemicals to fight against pollen[1].

Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies, and considered as the main components of aeroallergens that lead to rhinitis and asthma[2]. Allergic rhinitis, if not well managed, can worsen asthma symptoms to worsen. It is recognized that allergic rhinitis is present in up to 80% of asthma sufferers[3]. Overall, it is becoming a major burden globally and 25% of the population suffer from it[4].

People tend to think that plants with colored flowers are the one causing allergies, but the majority of the pollens that cause allergic reactions come from trees, weeds and grasses. Figure 1 shows the most common types of trees, weeds and grasses which can cause allergies and their pollen peak. Some trees such as Hazel and Yew, can start producing pollen as early as January and some others like Pine and Lime together with grasses can keep producing pollen throughout the summer season.

It is possible that you might be allergic to one specific type of pollen or to different kinds at the same time. In this case, you might get symptoms from early spring right into autumn.

If you are feeling the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis, your doctor might refer you to an allergist who will confirm the diagnosis with an allergy test. It is very important to know exactly what type of pollen triggers your allergies so you can try and control these symptoms and improve your quality of life by reducing the exposure.


[1] [2] Mansouritorghabeh H, Jabbari-Azad F, Sankian M, Varasteh A, Farid-Hosseini R. The Most Common Allergenic Tree Pollen Grains in the Middle East: A Narrative Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019;44(2):87-98. [3] Bourdin A. Vachier I. and Chanez P. (2009) Upper airway.1: Allergic rhinitis and asthma; united disease through epithelial cells. Thorax 64 pp999-1004 [4] Mothes, N., Valenta, R. Biology of tree pollen allergens. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 4, 384–390 (2004).

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