It may seem a bit early in the year to be talking about hayfever as most people with the condition struggle in summer with grass pollen. But early spring and the appearance of catkins (pictured above) heralds the start of the release of tree pollens; and with it, the classic signs of allergy.
It’s easy to mistake the sniffles and sneezing for a winter cold, but a runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, ears or mouth, and red, watery or swollen eyes are all signs of allergic rhinitis or hayfever.
Hayfever and asthma often go hand in hand and you may find your asthma symptoms worsen as the trees are pollinating and start to blow about. Tree pollen is particularly fine, light and dry, more so than grass pollen, and can travel for miles on the wind into your airways, eyes and sinuses.
Between February and May, some of the trees that cause the most symptoms are:
- Box elder (aka ashleaf maple)
- Cedar (found mainly in parks and gardens of large estates)
Oral Allergy Syndrome
Tree pollen is similar to the protein in some fruits, vegetables and nuts and being allergic to some trees may could cause your mouth or face to itch or swell when you eat certain foods. Birch and alder are common offenders and the plant foods that cross-react with their pollen are very diverse, ranging from apples, cherries and pears to carrots and spinach. This is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). Fortunately the reaction is usually very mild and only to uncooked fruit and vegetables.
How to Relieve Tree Pollen Allergy Symptoms
It’s quite difficult to avoid tree pollen during the late winter and spring. But you can reduce your symptoms with the right treatment.
Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants will help, as will using a nasal rinse. This simple remedy will clear pollen from your sinuses with impressive efficiency and is recommended as a non-drug treatment.
Masks can also help. One of our favourites is the QMask Microscreen Face Mask. It is light and an easy breathe yet it is very efficient in keeping out pollen and other allergens. It is economical too as the QMask can be washed and washed, so there are no filters to buy or replacements to buy.
For those whose eyes are prone to itch in the pollen season the Wraparound Sunglasses for Effective Eye Protection are just the job. They have a foam cushion for each eye which lessen the distance between your face and the glasses keeping moisture in and pollen out.