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MOWING DOWN YOUR GRASS ALLERGIES

Allergy to grasses is very common. Grass allergies can present in a variety of ways, including nasal symptoms (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing
) asthma and eye symptoms (itchy, watery/red eyes). People can also have skin rashes (hives or skin welts) after exposure to grasses, but this is much less common. Grass allergies are prevalent because grass pollen scatters in the wind, so you are more likely to breathe it in and thus develop symptoms. In most regions of the United States, grass usually pollinates in the late spring season (April through early June).

There are two large classes of grasses: northern and southern. Common northern grasses include Timothy, Kentucky Blue, Johnson, Rye and Fescue. Common southern grasses include Bermuda and Bahia. Many regions of the United States have a predominance of one or more types of these grasses.
Allergic rhinitis includes nasal symptoms (hay fever) consisting of sneezing, nasal drainage (runny nose), nasal congestion (stuffy nose) and itchy nose. Facial pressure can also occur. Asthma symptoms include cough, wheezing, chest congestion, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Eye allergy, or allergic conjunctivitis, includes eye symptoms of itchy, irritated, red and watery eyes. Rashes after exposure to grass usually are hives or welts. They are red, itchy and raised. Usually, actual contact with grass causes them. However, hives can also be caused by other things, so it is important to talk with your allergist about your rash.

Diagnosis of grass allergy usually involves allergy testing. There are generally two types of allergy testing: skin prick testing and specific IgE testing (blood test). Allergy skin prick testing involves “pricking” grass extracts in a liquid form on the arms or back and waiting 10 to 15 minutes for an “itchy bump” to occur, indicating an allergy to grass. These tests should be ordered and performed by an allergist. A blood test involves drawing blood and sending it to a laboratory to determine if you are specifically allergic to grass.  

The major goal of treatment is an improvement in your quality of life. You should be able to participate in your school, work, social and family activities. In addition, sleep should be restful and undisturbed. It may help to monitor pollen counts regularly. During days of high pollen counts, staying indoors can be helpful. Closing windows can also decrease pollen exposure. Taking showers after coming home following outdoor exposure may decrease pollen exposure accumulated while outside. Schedule a visit with us to determine your best treatment plan.

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