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As we roll into spring and then the summer months (they’ll be here before you know it), the presence of pollen in the air starts to become a concern for millions of Americans. In fact, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (the AAFA), about 18 million adults and 7 million kids will be affected each year by dust and pollen. It is helpful to know what kind of pollen is in the atmosphere, and the sources from which they derive.

Grass – Ryegrass Pollen

Even if you didn’t know the name before now, if you’ve ever been to a rural area where farmland is abundant and the vegetation is lush, then you’ve likely seen the tall green stalks of ryegrass. Although there are ryegrass extracts that are marketed to help with noncancerous enlarged prostate glands, the natural pollen can cause allergic reactions in those susceptible to it.

Grass – Timothy Grass Pollen

This pollen derives as the offshoot of a grass that grows up to four feet tall. The spores are especially small, and you may inhale them without knowing it – only to be beset by a mild to serious allergic reaction later in the day. Allergy season for Timothy grass pollen generally starts in June and ends a month later.

Tree Pollen

Tree Pollen is of a wide variety, and includes Willow, Hazelnut, Cedar, Hornbeam, Birch, Alder, Olive and more. Early spring is the harbinger, which is around very late March. Usually the dust is even smaller than grass pollen, and so can be carried very far on the wind. An interesting fact is that trees that bear flowers tend to have larger pollen grains, which don’t trigger allergies nearly as much since they can’t easily be carried on the wind.

The closer you live to tress such as Cottonwood or Elm, the more likely you could be subject to allergies caused by their airborne pollen. The good news is that there are alerts as when the pollen count is high, and all you have to do is avoid being outside unprotected during those times (as well as keeping your windows and doors shut). Also – avoid eating the fruits from such trees, as they can trigger your propensity to getting an allergic reaction from the pollen.

Weed Pollen

Weeds are plants that pollinate, too, and the some of the ones to watch out for are Ragweed, Sorrel, Mugwort, Goosefoot and Nettle weeds.

In particular, Mugwort weed releases very allergenic pollen that derives from a 6-foot tall plant in North America, Asia and Europe. You’ll find it in rural areas and places where the terrain is rough; where a hardy plant is required in order to survive. In North America, pollen season for Mugwort is from late summer to early fall – not very long. However, it is known to cause oral allergy syndrome and hay fever.

Nettle actually comes in a large variety of weeds; all of which generally possess small spikes. There’s the Stinging Nettle, Dwarf Nettle, California Nettle and Dog Nettle as examples. Strangely enough, nettle leaves can also be used to help relieve allergies when made as a tea – it has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In its pure form, however, the pollen it releases can cause you to sneeze all summer long.

For the most part, the types of pollen that exist are covered in the general categories of trees, grass and weed. They all have the potential to react negatively with your immune system, which treats it as a foreign object and engages an immune response.