Do trees make you sneeze?

Hay fever is a type of allergy that affects approximately 1 in 5 people in the UK.  Whilst the vast majority of sufferers are allergic to grass pollen, about 25% of sufferers have an allergy to tree pollen too.

The main tree pollen season starts in March with birch pollen and carries on through until late May or early June with oak pollen. However, some people can also have an allergy to earlier flowering trees such as Hazel and Alder which start producing pollen in January and February so, if you are suffering symptoms outside of the traditional grass pollen season (from April to August), you may not just have a common cold and it’s worth checking whether you could be suffering from an allergy to tree pollen as many trees do let go of their pollen in late winter and early spring.

Do I suffer from a tree pollen allergy?

Don’t assume that it is the flowering trees, such as apple and cherry trees that cause a tree pollen allergy. In fact, flowering trees usually have stickier pollen that doesn't blow in the wind or cause symptoms.

What types of tree are best for a tree pollen allergy sufferer?

Having a trigger tree in your garden can expose you to 10 times more pollen than one further down the road so your choice of tree could be critical to protecting yourself against allergies in your own environment.  Recommended trees that do not aggravate tree pollen allergies include crape myrtle, dogwood, fig, fir, palm, pear, plum, redbud, and redwood trees, or the female cultivars of ash, box elder, cottonwood, maple, palm, poplar, or willow trees.

What is a pollen count?

The daily pollen count is an average of 24 hours and is given as the number of pollen grains of one type (usually for grass pollen in our weather reports) per cubic metre of air.  It is generally presented as low, moderate, high or very high:

Low is less than 30 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.

Moderate is 30 to 49 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.

High is 50 to 149 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.

Very High is 150 or more pollen grains per cubic metre of air.

Most people will start to experience symptoms at the moderate stage unless they are exposed to a particularly high concentration of the allergy source.

Did you know? Palynology is the study of pollen, spores and other microscopic biological entities, collectively known as palynomorphs.

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