Is This What's Making You Sneeze?

All About Grass Pollen Allergies

If breathing in fresh spring air makes you sneeze, or sitting on a grassy hill gives you a rash, you may have a grass pollen allergy. Grass pollens are microscopic and travel easily through the air. Everyone breathes in grass pollen, but not everyone reacts to it. If you have a grass allergy and go outside on a day when pollen is in the air, you're likely to be irritated by symptoms like watery eyes or a runny nose. Some people can also have a reaction just by touching grass. If you're severely allergic, you could even experience anaphylaxis.

Grass pollens, like tree and weed pollens, can travel far on windy days, so your reactions may not be because of the grass growing in your yard or neighborhood. The source of your allergies could actually come from grass miles away.

Common Grass Pollens

There are thousands of grass types that can trigger your allergic reactions and you may notice your symptoms getting worse during late spring and early summer, when grasses produce the most pollen.1 Some common varieties include:

Bermuda: known to be one of the main causes of grass allergy. It's found in warm areas and is used primarily as lawn grass, meaning it can be found wherever homeowners choose to plant it, in addition to where it naturally grows.2

Johnson: a warm-season grass that is native to humid and tropical environments, such as the Mediterranean region of Europe and South Asia.2

Kentucky Bluegrass: Kentucky Bluegrass is not native to Kentucky, or even the United States. It originates from Europe, Northern Asia and parts of Africa. It has spread to many regions in the United States and is best suited to cool and humid climates.2

Many other common varieties are out there producing pollen, too, including:

Orchard

Redtop

Rye

Sweet vernal

Timothy

Common Grass Allergy Symptoms

Grass pollen is a frequent cause of allergy symptoms. Common grass allergy symptoms can include:

Sneezing

Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)

Runny nose

Scratchy throat

Irritated eyes

Coughing

Wheezing

Additional Resources

If you suspect you have a grass allergy, the best way to know for sure is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider and get tested. Learn more about your testing options.

 

References:
[1] Schmidt CW. Pollen overload: Seasonal allergies in a changing climate. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Apr; 124(4): A70-A75.
[2] 2. Steinman H, Ruden S. Grass pollens. Allergy Resources International. 2004, 2007.

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