Many people across the world have a grass allergy. Despite the name, a person has an allergic response not to the grass itself but to the pollen that it releases.
People may also refer to a grass allergy as seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Hay fever occurs when a person’s immune system mistakes a normally harmless airborne substance, such as grass pollen, as a threat. In response, the body releases chemicals, including histamine, which triggers allergy symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children in the United States had hay fever.
This article covers the types of grass allergy, as well as their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) state that only a few types of grass can cause allergy symptoms. They also note that depending on where a person lives, various grasses may be responsible for the symptoms, which they can trigger at different times of the year.
Pollination differs between the northern and southern regions of the U.S. For example, late spring and early summer represent the pollen season for northern regions. On the other hand, in southern regions, grasses may pollinate throughout the year.
The AAFA state that the types of grass that most commonly cause allergies are:
The symptoms of a grass allergy can include:
Grass pollen allergies are one of the most common allergies in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNS). The AAO-HNS recommend avoiding the allergens as much as possible.
Grass allergy symptoms are often less obvious on rainy, cloudy days or when there is little to no wind. Conversely, hot, dry, and windy weather spreads pollen around more, which can increase a person’s allergy symptoms.
Many allergens that trigger the symptoms of grass allergies are airborne, so a person cannot always avoid them.
A person with grass allergies can pay attention to the pollen count and prepare for days when this is high, and their symptoms will be more severe.
There is no way to prevent grass allergies fully, but a person can minimize the symptoms in the following ways:
A person with a grass allergy can choose from a variety of medications that are available over the counter (OTC) or via prescription.
These medicines include:
A person may find that certain lifestyle practices help them manage their grass allergy. They can try: limiting outdoor activities on days when the pollen count is high closing windows when the pollen count is high using an air conditioning unit with a specialist filter to prevent pollen from entering the home avoiding drying the laundry outside when the pollen count is high taking antihistamines before the exposure to triggers so that the body blocks the effects of histamine release at an earlier stage keeping lawns short to decrease the chance of the grass releasing
pollen wearing sunglasses and a hat to keep pollen out of the eyes and hair, if going outside is unavoidable.
If a person is unsure whether they have a grass allergy, a doctor can conduct tests to find out.
Doctors use two tests to diagnose a grass pollen allergy:
A person should seek medical attention if OTC medications do not provide adequate relief, as a doctor can design a plan with an individual to tackle the symptoms.
Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that can help prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions. For grass allergies, there are two forms:
A doctor will advise on how suitable immunotherapy is for an individual.
If a person has allergies, it is crucial to seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms occur, as they can be a sign of anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency:
Grass allergies are not deadly, but they can make a person very uncomfortable. Many people with a grass allergy may also have asthma, and their allergy can trigger an asthma attack, which can be serious.
Usually, grass allergies are very manageable, with numerous treatment options available. A grass allergy should not affect a person’s quality of life.