It’s that time of year again! June and July is peak grass pollen season. When you see the grass grow tall and get those little tufts on top, beware….pollen will be blowing for miles—like a tsunami!
Grass: There are over 1200 species of grasses native to North America (10,000 world wide), but only a few of these are significant when it comes to allergies. Different grasses wind-pollinate during specific times of the year, depending on the location in the U.S. In our area, sweet vernal grass begins to bloom in early May, followed by Orchard grass (late May), then Blue/June grass. Fescue, Timothy and Redtop bloom from June to July. In the south, the grasses may pollinate most of the year! This is important information for travelers with grass pollen allergy. Timothy grass is widely cultivated for hay and the most important commercially grown grass (more than alfalfa and clover!).
Grass pollen: The pollen is primarily released in the morning. All grass pollen grains are similar in appearance being spherical with 1 pore. Within each grain, there are more than 20 active components (mostly proteins) that trigger the allergic reaction. Most grasses share common allergens, so if you are allergic to one species, you are likely allergic to them all with the exception of Bermuda and Johnson grass.
Fun Fact: Some patients who are wheat allergic may experience more significant grass pollen allergy symptoms as these are related.
Grass Pollen Allergy Symptoms:
- Allergic rhinitis from grass is called grass pollinosis (commonly known as “hay fever”): sneezing attacks, clear runny nose, nasal itching, stuff nose, and fatigue, but NO fever.
- Allergic conjunctivitis: itchy, watery, and red eyes
- Asthma: while the entire pollen is too large to be inhaled into the lung, the pollen can break apart into smaller pieces that when inhaled deeply, trigger cough, wheezing, chest tightness and/or shortness of breath.
While grass is fun to look at, mow, play soccer on and have picnics on, the pollen can wreak havoc on those who are allergic. If you suffer from summer allergies or suspect grass allergy, at Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, we can test for grass (and other pollen) and develop a specific treatment plan just for you!
This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.