Many people are sensitive to the allergens found in certain types of tree pollen. When the wind blows, tiny pollen spores become airborne in search of other trees to pollinate. If an allergic person breathes in some of these spores, he or she might develop a runny nose, watery eyes, and congestion that can last for several hours. Airborne allergens can be difficult to avoid, especially in an area with lots of trees, but people can usually find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays. An individual with a severe or persistent tree pollen allergy typically should speak with his or her doctor to learn about different treatment options.
Tree pollen allergy sufferers most frequently experience symptoms around elm, walnut, pecan, and hickory trees. Some individuals are sensitive to sycamore, olive, and willow trees as well. Reactions tend to be worse when a person lives or works near many trees, though pollen spores can easily be carried by the wind from trees far away. Depending on the specific tree pollen allergy a person has, symptoms may only be present during certain seasons. They are generally worse in the early springtime, however, when most trees produce new spores.
Pollens enter the nose and mouth and attach to the mucous membranes in the throat. An allergic person's immune system recognizes the pollens as foreign invaders, although the pollens themselves do not pose a health threat. The immune system releases histamines to fight off the allergens, which results in inflammation, irritation, and mucus production in the airways. Results of a tree pollen allergy include a stuffed-up or runny nose, head and chest congestion, coughing, sneezing, and red, watery eyes. Some severely allergic people experience face and neck swelling as well as an itchy skin rash.
Most tree pollen allergy problems can be treated with oral antihistamines and decongestants. Some people find that saline nasal sprays help to reduce congestion, and specialized over-the-counter eye drops can reduce itching and redness. Symptoms tend to go away within a few hours of going indoors and taking the appropriate medications.
If a person finds that over-the-counter medications simply do not provide relief, he or she can visit a physician. The doctor can determine the specific causes of a patient's tree pollen allergy and determine the best course of treatment. Some patients are prescribed high-strength antihistamines to combat active reactions and daily medication to help prevent the onset of allergic symptoms. A doctor may suggest regular allergy shots for people who suffer from frequent allergic episodes. In addition, medical professionals can help a patient identify the triggers of his or her reactions and learn about the most effective methods of avoiding exposure.