Although there are 1,200 North American grass species, only a few are responsible for triggering allergies. Spread by the wind, grass pollen can adhere to the nose, skin, hair, eyes and lungs. Allergic response can be elicited by touching the grass.
The ones typical of symptoms are categorized in 2 classes – northern and southern grasses.
Northern grasses typical of colder climates include:
- Orchard Grass
- Red Top
- Sweet vernal
- Blue Grass
Southern grasses, found in warmer climates include:
- Bermuda Grass (the majority in this class)
- Kentucky Bluegrass (commonly in Europe and northern U.S.)
- Johnson Grass
Grass pollen is often present in late spring and early summer. Watering your lawn often and mowing the grass often, before flowering occurs, helps inhibit the production of most grass pollens.
Grass allergies can be linked with fruit-pollen syndrome (reacting to tomatoes, peaches and potatoes) from cross-reactivity of the proteins in both fruit and grass. Cooking or processing these fruits, can break down the causal proteins in fruit, helping you avoid an allergic reaction.
Grass pollen causes the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Sneezing, sniffing
- Itchy, red eyes
- Puffing under the eyes
- Itchy throat
- Asthma trigger
- Skin irritations (rashes, large welts, spots) when touching grass
- Possible sinus inflammation
Symptoms of grass pollen and fruit pollen when fruit is eaten fresh include:
- Swelling of the tongue
- Itching, and burning of the mouth
- Stinging or inflammation of the throat