Tree pollen allergies are a common form of allergic reaction. It can cause allergic rhinitis or hay fever, with symptoms including itchy eyes, congestion, runny nose, and more.
Tree pollen causes the most cases of spring pollen allergies in the United States. The season can start as early as January in southern, warmer climates but generally lasts from February through May.
This article reviews the types of trees that cause tree pollen allergy. It also looks at symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and more.
Several trees throughout the United States can cause a tree pollen allergy to occur. Trees typically release their pollen in early spring, which means it is often the first spring allergy to occur.
Many different trees can cause tree pollen allergy. Some examples of trees that can cause allergies with their pollen include:
Tree pollen typically causes allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Hay fever causes several symptoms that can include:
- runny or stuffy nose
- red and watery eyes
- postnasal drip
- itchy nose, ears, eyes, and mouth
- feeling irritable
- swelling around the eyes
- disturbed sleep
Tree pollen is typically light and carries easily through the air. A person may not be able to see the pollen a tree releases. They may breathe it in or get it in their eyes and nose.
People with a tree pollen allergy have an immune system that mistakes the particles for harmful invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi. It then attacks the “invader,” creating cold-like symptoms.
Unlike a cold or other respiratory infection, a tree pollen allergy tends to last for more than 1–2 weeks. It may improve on a calm day with not much wind and worsen on warm, windy days.
A family doctor may suspect a person has allergic rhinitis and refer a person to an allergist if a person presents with symptoms associated with an allergy.
After taking a full medical history and performing a physical exam, they may order various tests to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible causes. Tests can include an allergy skin test and blood tests.
Following a diagnosis, an allergist may prescribe one or more of the following medications to help treat a person’s tree pollen allergy:
- eye drops
- nasal sprays
- leukotriene modifiers, such as montelukast
If these do not work, a doctor may recommend immunotherapy. This long-term therapy helps to reduce the immune system’s response to allergens, such as tree pollen.
What is the best antihistamine for tree pollen?
Antihistamines provide some relief from symptoms of a tree pollen allergy. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends long lasting and nondrowsy antihistamines. This includes brands such as Claritin, CLARINEX, Allegra, and ZYRTEC.
Home remedies may help some people find relief from their allergies. Steps a person can take include:
- reducing time spent outdoors and keeping windows closed when the pollen count is high
- drying clothes in a dryer or indoors rather than outdoors
- wearing sunglasses and keeping hair covered when outdoors
- changing clothes when coming home after being outdoors
Tree pollen is everywhere, in every state in the United States. It is not possible to move to a part of the country without tree pollen.
However, a person can take steps to reduce the risk of exposure. Some tips to reduce exposure include:
- paying attention to local news about reports on local pollen
- avoiding wearing outdoor clothes indoors
- wearing hats or other coverings outdoors to reduce exposure
- washing or showering after spending time outdoors
- keeping pets clean
- washing sheets and bedding frequently
- staying indoors with air conditioning when pollen counts are high
- taking allergy medication in advance of pollen season
Tree pollen allergies typically occur in early spring and can start in some areas as soon as January. When they occur, they can trigger allergic rhinitis, which causes symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and others.
A person may find relief with over-the-counter or prescription medications. They may also find that taking steps to reduce exposure can help. This can include paying attention to local pollen forecasts as well as cleaning off potential areas of exposure, such as pets, clothing, and hair.
It is best for a person to contact a doctor if they have concerns about tree pollen allergies. An allergist can carry out tests to confirm the diagnosis and advise on suitable treatments.