For most people in the UK grass pollen is the key trigger for their hay fever. But if you tend to get hay fever symptoms earlier in the year than other people, it could well be that you’re one of a significant number of people who are allergic to tree pollen. About 20% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to tree pollen.
Trees most likely to Cause Hay Fever
In the UK, the trees most likely to release pollen that causes hay fever are birch, alder, hazel and horse chestnut. If you’re allergic to tree pollen, you will probably find that your symptoms are at their worst between March and May.
Birch tree Pollen
The birch tree releases its pollen between March and May, and hay fever sufferers are likely to experience the worst of their symptoms during April. Birch tree pollen counts will be at their highest on dry, warm days, especially if there’s a breeze over areas wooded with birch trees. If you are allergic to birch pollen, you may also react to celery, raw tomato, raw carrots, apples and pears. Once the birch tree pollen season is over, the oak tree pollen season begins. This is usually towards the end of April and early May. More people are allergic to birch pollen rather than oak pollen.
Early season Hay Fever
The birch tree is not the only culprit for causing the symptoms of hay fever. If your hay fever begins really early in the year – perhaps as early as January – it could be that you’re allergic to the pollen of another type of tree. The hazel, elm, alder and yew are all capable of causing hay fever in some people, and can release pollen very early in the year.
Managing Tree Pollen Allergy
Regardless of whether you are allergic to grass pollen or to tree pollen, all the same tactics apply for managing your hay fever symptoms. Make sure you know the time of year that your trigger pollen is released into the air. Keep an eye on the pollen count and try to stay inside on the worst days. If you must go outside, keep the car windows closed and wear wraparound sunglasses. Of course, you can also talk to your doctor, pharmacist or allergy specialist about ways to manage the worst symptoms of your hay fever.
Finding what Works for you
Whether or not you are allergic to tree or to grass pollen is fairly unlikely to have an impact on the treatment you take to relieve your hay fever symptoms. But it can be useful to consider whether it’s tree pollen that’s to blame for your hay fever, if only to get a clearer picture of when during the year you’re most likely to have problems. Not only will you be able to make more educated decisions on when to take medication, but you might also be able to plan some key major events, like your wedding or a family holiday, at a time when the birch tree is not sending its pollen up into the air.
I have read somewhere that tree pollen is more active in the mornings up to 10 ..11am is this true as my symptoms do improve as day goes on
Joonhen - 8-Apr-17 @ 8:35 AM
From the End of February for approx 8 weeks Tree Pollen is unpleasant and causes Asthma, Blocked nose and constant watering & itchy eyes. For myself it is just a case of getting through this time of year. Grass Pollen is not a big problem at all, its just the tree Pollen and I love trees. Just wish they would keep their Pollen to themselves LOL.
jono - 12-Mar-17 @ 11:24 AM
Great article. I only started to get Hayfever symptoms a several years ago and I am in my forties. It starts in mid/late March and only improves during May, so definitely Tree pollen which is useful to know.
Duddy - 6-May-16 @ 3:30 PM
I have suffered with sneezing & a really itchy & sore rash on my neck for the last three April's this must be tree pollen & lasts about 4 weeks - I am ok in the summer - interesting article
Charliex - 2-May-16 @ 11:56 PM
I tried putting cotton wool up each nostril when i walked the dog up the forestry today..and up to now it seems to have helped.
PS...I am only allergic to tree pollen.
taz - 6-May-13 @ 8:32 AM
I wear a snood and wrap around clear glasses, helps loads, (though you do get weird stares)though on sunny days I find it best to stay in. It gives me the worse tooth ache in the whole of my mouth=Ouch the agony of throbbing gums.: (