Pollen Allergies - June 11th 2011
Pollen is one of the leading causes of seasonal allergies around the home. Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny pollen particles are released from trees, weeds, and grasses, causing seasonal rhinitis, commonly referred to as hay fever (nasal/sinus allergies). While many other allergens can easily be avoided, it is very difficult to avoid pollen, even indoors! Furthermore, individuals with pollen allergies can develop sensitivities to other allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores.
Pollen are microscopic grains, typically round or oval in shape, that are shed by plants, trees, and grasses as part of their reproductive cycle. They can travel enormous distances when carried by winds - often several hundred miles! A single plant may produce millions of pollen grains per day.
Common allergy causing pollens in North America include:
- Redroot pigweed
- Lambs quarters
- Russian thistle (tumbleweed)
- English plantain
- Timothy grass
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Johnson grass
- Bermuda grass
- Redtop grass
- Orchard grass
- Sweet vernal grass
- Box elder
- Mountain cedar
Most colourful and scented flowers like roses do not cause allergies because their pollen is heavy and waxy, and is transported primarily by insects, not by the wind. In other words, it is less likely to be inhaled in significant quantities.
Pollen is readily transported inside your home by wind and airflow through open doors and windows, and on your clothes, or even on your pets. Once inside your home, it is easily stirred up and breathed into your nose, throat, and lungs, where it causes irritations that lead to a wide range of allergy symptoms including runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, watery irritated eyes, etc.
The best defence against pollen inside your home is a high quality High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter that is capable of trapping and containing the tiny particles. Such filters will also eliminate other allergens such as pet pander and dust mites that you may be more sensitive to during your hay fever attacks.