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Allergen Fact Sheets

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Cottonwood tree Allergen Fact Sheet

Tree Pollen
Tree Pollen
Allergy Insider

About cottonwood tree

Native to North America, cottonwood trees (aka poplars) are fast growing varieties that provide ample shade.1,2 Some species can reach 100 feet in height.2 While known for their cotton-like seeds, the trees pollinate before their cottony fluff is released into the air.2,3 Cottonwoods are wind pollinated, and their pollen is considered moderately allergenic.3

Where is cottonwood tree found?

Cottonwoods are native to North America.1

Are there other allergens I could be sensitized to?

Many patients with cottonwood tree allergy can experience symptoms when exposed to other allergens such as tree, weed, or grass pollens, making it difficult to determine which pollen is causing the symptoms, especially when pollen seasons are overlapping. This is called cross-reactivity and occurs when your body's immune system identifies the proteins, or components, in different substances as being structurally similar or biologically related, thus triggering a response.9 Other respiratory allergens that may cause reactions associated with cottonwood tree pollen allergy include poplars, willows, and limited other tree, weed, and grass pollens.10

How do I manage my allergy?

The management of allergic rhinitis includes avoidance of relevant allergens, symptomatic treatment, and allergen immunotherapy.6-8

Exposure reduction
  • Check local pollen counts daily and limit time outside when tree-pollen counts are high. Rain helps clear pollen from the air, so the best time to go outside is after a good rain.
  • Delegate outdoor chores whenever possible and wear a pollen mask if you must do outside tasks. 
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning instead.
  • Wash bedding at least once a week in hot, soapy water.
  • Wash your clothes after outdoor activities and dry all clothes in a dryer as opposed to line drying outdoors.
  • Bathe and wash your hair every day before bedtime to keep pollen out of your bed.
  • Wipe off any pets to remove pollen before letting them into your home.
  • Ensure everyone removes their shoes before entering your home.
  • Use certified asthma and allergy air filters.
Symptom relief
  • Pharmacological treatment, including antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, and saline douches.
  • Allergen immunotherapy as directed by your healthcare provider.
Identifying individual allergen triggers can help you stay below your symptom threshold.
Learn more

COMMON SYMPTOMS

Cottonwood tree allergy symptoms can be similar to many other pollen allergies and may include:4,6

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy throat and eyes
  • Wheezing

If you’re sensitized to cottonwood trees and have asthma, tree pollen may trigger or worsen asthma symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing.4,6

HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M ALLERGIC?

Together with your symptom history, skin-prick testing or specific IgE blood testing can help determine if you are sensitized to a particular allergen. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, your healthcare provider will work with you to create a management plan.

POLLEN SEASON

While tree pollen is common in the spring, cottonwoods typically pollinate February to May.4,5

References
  1. Encyclopedia Britannica [Internet]. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.; 2020 May 12. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/plant/poplar.
  2. Arbor Day Foundation [Internet]. Lincoln, NE: Arbor Day Foundation; 2020. Available from: https://www.arborday.org/programs/nationaltree/cottonwood.cfm.
  3. Pollen.com [Internet]. Plymouth Meeting, PA: IQVIA Inc.; 2020. Available from: https://www.pollen.com/research/genus/populus.
  4. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Arlington Heights, IL: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; 2014 [2018 Apr 23]. Available from: https://acaai.org/allergies/types/pollen-allergy.
  5. Murray AB, Milner RA. The accuracy of features in the clinical history for predicting atopic sensitization to airborne allergens in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 1995;96(5):588–96.
  6. Roberts, Graham & Xatzipsalti, M & Borrego, Luis & Custovic, Adnan & Halken, Susanne & Hellings, Peter & Papadopoulos, Nikolaos & Rotiroti, G & Scadding, Glenis & Timmermans, Frans & Valovirta, Erkka. (2013). Paediatric rhinitis: Position paper of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Allergy. 68. 10.1111/all.12235.
  7. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America [Internet]. Arlington, VA: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; 2019 Apr 9. Available from: https://community.aafa.org/blog/tips-for-preventing-allergic-reactions-to-tree-and-grass-pollen.
  8. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2020 Apr 16. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343.
  9. Matricardi PM, Kleine-Tebbe J, Hoffmann HJ, Valenta R, Hilger C, Hofmaier S, Aalberse RC, Agache I, Asero R, Ballmer-Weber B, Barber D, Beyer K, Biedermann T, Bilò MB, Blank S, Bohle B, Bosshard PP, Breiteneder H, Brough HA, Caraballo L, Caubet JC, Crameri R, Davies JM, Douladiris N, Ebisawa M, EIgenmann PA, Fernandez-Rivas M, Ferreira F, Gadermaier G, Glatz M, Hamilton RG, Hawranek T, Hellings P, Hoffmann-Sommergruber K, Jakob T, Jappe U, Jutel M, Kamath SD, Knol EF, Korosec P, Kuehn A, Lack G, Lopata AL, Mäkelä M, Morisset M, Niederberger V, Nowak-Węgrzyn AH, Papadopoulos NG, Pastorello EA, Pauli G, Platts-Mills T, Posa D, Poulsen LK, Raulf M, Sastre J, Scala E, Schmid JM, Schmid-Grendelmeier P, van Hage M, van Ree R, Vieths S, Weber R, Wickman M, Muraro A, Ollert M. EAACI Molecular Allergology User's Guide. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2016 May;27 Suppl 23:1-250. doi: 10.1111/pai.12563. PMID: 27288833.
  10. Wallner M et.al. The Concept of Pollen Panallergens: Profilins and Polcalcins. Ch 3 MAD.