Pollen Allergy, What Is It?
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny particles are released from trees, weeds, and grasses. These particles, known as pollen, hitch rides on currents of air. Although their mission is to fertilize parts of other plants, many never reach their targets. Instead, they enter human noses and throats, triggering a type of seasonal allergic rhinitis called pollen allergy, which many people know as hay fever or rose fever (depending on the season in which the symptoms occur). Of all the things that can cause an allergy, pollen is one of the most widespread. Many of the foods, drugs, or animals that cause allergies can be avoided to a great extent; even insects and household dust are escapable. Short of staying indoors when the pollen count is high--and even that may not help--there is no easy way to evade windborne pollen.
Hay fever (Allergic Rhinitis) is the most common of the allergic diseases and refers to seasonal nasal symptoms that are due to pollens. Year round or perennial allergic rhinitis is usually due to indoor allergens, such as dust mites or molds.
What is pollen?