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Pollen is a very fine powder produced by trees and other plants to help grow and reproduce themselves. Because of its microscopic size, it travels easily through the air. Everyone breathes in tree pollen, but not everyone reacts to it. If you have a pollen allergy and go outside on a day when the pollen count is high, you’re likely to experience irritating symptoms like watery eyes or a runny nose.
Tree pollens, like grass and weed pollens, can travel far on windy days, so your reactions may not be because of the trees in your yard or neighborhood. The source of your allergies could actually come from trees miles away.
There are hundreds of trees that release pollen that can trigger your allergic reactions. Some of these include:
Tree pollen is a frequent cause of allergy symptoms. Common tree pollen allergy symptoms can include:
And if you’re allergic to tree pollen, inhaling it can also increase asthmatic reactions.1
If you have a tree pollen allergy and have experienced an itchy mouth or throat after eating fresh fruit or raw vegetables, you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). OAS is a cross-reaction that can occur when someone who is allergic to tree pollen eats certain fruits, vegetables, nuts or beans and has an allergic response. For example, if you're allergic to trees, you may have had a scratchy throat after eating apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, hazelnuts, mangoes or pears.
You may be so used to dealing with your congestion and irritated eyes that you might not consider asking for help. Learning if you have a specific tree pollen allergy, to birch or olive tree for example, is the first step to minimizing your symptoms. How do you know if your symptoms are caused by a tree pollen allergy or not? Testing can help your healthcare professional determine what’s behind the endless sneezing and sniffles, so don’t try to manage the problem on your own. A simple blood test—together with your medical history—can help identify underlying allergen triggers, if you have an allergy. And a blood test can be done even when you are taking antihistamines.2 Knowing if you’re allergic and what you’re allergic to can help you, or a loved one, avoid or minimize symptoms.