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, triggering an attack. Allergic response can also be caused by simply touching grass.
The ones typical of symptoms are categorized in two classes: northern and southern grasses.
Northern grasses, found in cooler climates include:
- Orchard grass
- Red top
- Sweet vernal
- Blue grass
Southern grasses, found in warmer climates include:
- Bermuda grass
- Kentucky bluegrass
- 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 stop 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 proteins, helping to avoid an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of Grass Pollen Allergies
Grass pollen can cause 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
- 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
Doctors Who Treat Grass Pollen Allergies
- Nurse practitioner: Focuses on prevention of illness, overall wellness and education of patients about health choices. The nurse practitioner reviews the history and symptomatology of reactions and makes recommendations.
- General practitioner: Deals with prevention, discovery and treatment of illnesses in all age categories. The doctor may perform the skin-prick test and diagnose grass pollen allergy or may refer the patient to an allergist.
- Internist: Specializes in the prevention, discovery and treatment of illnesses in adults. The doctor may diagnose and treat allergies or refer the patient to an allergist.
- Allergist/Immunologist: Deals with the diagnosis, treatment and management of allergies and other conditions affecting the immune system.