Pollen Allergies

Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies. It is also called seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever.

Every spring, summer, and fall, plants release tiny pollen grains to fertilize plants of the same species. Pollens that cause most allergic reactions come from trees, weeds, and grasses. Plants fertilized by insects such as roses and some flowering trees – like cherry and pear – usually do not cause seasonal pollen allergies.

Each weekday, OAAC’s certified pollen and mold counter employees count the grains of each pollen and mold spores on a microscope slide taken from an overnight reading by the Burkhardt machine, which is located on the roof of the main office. The pollen counts are then reported to the local television stations and posted on OAAC’s website and social media.

Pollen allergy symptoms include runny nose and mucus production; sneezing; itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth; stuffy nose (nasal congestion); red, watery, and/or swollen eyes.

Pollen Allergy Testing

Allergists use two tests to diagnose a pollen allergy.

Skin Prick Testing

Skin prick testing involves placing a small drop of the possible allergen on the skin. The nurse will then lightly prick or scratch the spot with a tiny needle through the drop.

If allergic, the site will develop redness, swelling, and itching, usually within 20 minutes.

A wheal might occur instead, which is a raised round area that looks like a hive. Usually, the larger the wheal, the more likely allergic the person is to the allergen.

A positive skin prick test to a particular allergen does not necessarily mean the person has an allergy. Health care providers must compare skin test results with the time and place of a person’s symptoms to see if they match.

Specific Immunoglobulin E (IgE) Blood Testing

These tests are helpful for those with skin conditions or who are taking medicines that interfere with skin testing. Blood testing can be used for children who may not tolerate skin testing. A blood sample is taken and sent to the laboratory. The lab adds the allergen to the blood sample. The lab measures the number of antibodies produced in the blood to attack the allergens.

As with skin testing, a positive blood test to an allergen does not necessarily mean that an allergen caused the symptoms.

Preventing an Allergic Reaction to Pollen Allergy

  • Limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. This will lessen the amount of pollen allergen inhaled and reduce symptoms.
  • Keep windows closed during pollen season and use central air conditioning with allergy-friendly filters.
  • Take allergy medicine BEFORE pollen season starts. Most allergy medicines work best this way – by allowing the medicine to prevent the body from releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
  • Bathing and shampooing hair daily before going to bed will remove pollen from the hair and skin thus keeping it off bedding.
  • Wearing sunglasses and a hat will help keep pollen out of the eyes and off of the hair.
  • Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors. Wipe your pets off when they come into the house to remove any pollen off their fur.
  • Change and wash clothes worn during outdoor activities.
  • Dry clothes in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line, to prevent pollen from collecting on the clothes.

Contact an Allergist Today

Since 1925, the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic is committed to your well-being and providing the best quality of life. Contact us today at (405) 235-0040, whether you are suffering from different forms of allergies or asthma. We are happy to help you get your health back on track.

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