Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elisabeth Vincent Hamelin
What is a Pollen Allergy?
The arrival of spring officially starts the allergy season. With the increase in temperatures, the first ailments such as sneezing and watery eyes began: the pollen are responsible for these symptoms.
Pollens are tiny grains, invisible to the naked eye, which are freed from plants and transported by the wind. The pollens that induce allergy more frequently are those of wild grasses (bermuda grass, tail grass), while grasses cultivated as wheat, rye, barley, rarely cause respiratory allergies. Allergenic pollens are also produced from trees such as olive, beech, alder, birch, hazel and cypress, and from herbaceous plants such as parietaria, ragweed and plantain.
Contrary to popular belief, the “duvets” produced by poplars in the spring are not the cause of the allergy, but it is the pollens in general that are released in the air in high quantities precisely at this time of year. Spring, in fact, is the season in which the aerial concentration of pollen (measured in number of pollen grains per cubic meter of air) is higher, and therefore it is the season in which allergies reach their peak, even if the seasonality varies from region to region depending on the latitude and local vegetation. In recent years, however, there has been a marked increase in early pollinosis (occurring in the January-April period) and in those from summer flowering herbaceous species (e.g. parietaria, ambrosia).
The allergy to cypress pollen can even manifest itself already in December and the symptoms can be easily confused with those caused by respiratory viruses present in the winter. To follow the trend of pollenations, a surveillance network has been set up with detection stations scattered throughout the national territory; knowledge of the pollen calendar in a certain region can help the allergist in the diagnosis. Allergies to pollen from ornamental, colorful and fragrant flowers are very rare. Pollens are primarily responsible for seasonal allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis.