314.996.5000

Health Library

Allergens: Pollen

What is pollen?

Pollen is the tiny egg-shaped male cells of flowering plants, including trees, grasses, and weeds. Pollen is microscopic in size.

It is the most common cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis, sometimes known as hay fever.

Which plants produce pollen that cause allergic reactions?

Plants that have powdery granules of pollen that are easily blown by the wind, such as:

  • Trees, such as oak, western red cedar, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, walnut, catalpa, olive, and pecan

  • Grasses, such as Timothy, Johnson, Bermuda, orchard, sweet vernal, red top, and some blue grasses

  • Weeds, such as ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, tumbleweed, Russian thistle, and cockle weed

Most flowering plants, such as roses, have heavier, waxy pollens that are not as easily wind-blown.

When is pollen season?

Each plant has a pollen season. It usually starts in the spring, but may begin as early as January in the southern areas of the U.S. The season usually lasts until November.

Can allergic rhinitis in pollen season be prevented?

To lessen the effects of allergic rhinitis during pollen season, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology suggests the following:

  • Keep windows closed at night and use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.

  • Minimize outdoor activities early in the morning, between 5 and 10 a.m., when pollen is most prevalent.

  • Keep car windows closed when traveling.

  • Take a vacation to an area where pollen is not as prevalent, such as the ocean.

  • Take the medicines prescribed by your healthcare provider.

  • Don't spend much time outdoors when the pollen count is high.

  • Don't rake leaves during pollen season.

  • If you are allergic to grass, wear a mask or have someone else mow the lawn.  

  • Don't hang bedding or clothing outside to dry.

Latest Health News

How Much Do You Know About Stroke?

Stroke is a leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA). The ASA reports that strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Find out more about stroke by taking this quiz, based on information from the AHA and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

1. What is another name for a stroke?
2. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain.
3. Which of these is a symptom of stroke?
4. Which of these lifestyle factors plays the biggest role in increasing the risk for stroke in younger adults?
5. If a person has an ischemic stroke, how quickly should the person be treated to minimize long-term problems?
6. Which type of medicine is given to help prevent a stroke?
7. Which of these may be a long-term problem after a stroke?
Copyright © 1997-2018 BJC HealthCare. All Rights Reserved.