Understanding the Tough Time for Grass Allergies

cereal grass field in full bloom

Grass allergies, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis or "hay fever", affect many people each year.

It is important for you to understand the mechanisms of these allergies to better anticipate and treat the symptoms during the critical period.

Before going into detail, there are three different periods for grass allergies: April - May, June - August and September - October.

In order for you to understand them well, we will discuss the main characteristics of grass allergies, their treatments and how to deal with this period.

You can also find our article to easily understand grass pollen .

What are grasses?

The term grasses refers to a family of herbaceous plants comprising approximately 12,000 species distributed throughout the world.

These species include:

  • cereals (wheat, barley, rye)
  • prairie grasses (timothy, cocksfoot, bluegrass)
  • the bamboos.

Grasses are found in various natural environments such as forests, mountains and grasslands.

green grass field with a sunrise in the background

Why do grasses cause allergies?

Grasses are responsible for releasing pollens , which are tiny particles carried by the wind and responsible for the fertilization of plants.

When these pollens are inhaled by an allergic individual, they provoke a reaction of the immune system.

This reaction is then manifested by various symptoms of irritation and inflammation such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.

Factors favoring grass allergies

Several factors can promote the development of grass allergies:

  • Age: Children are more likely to develop grass allergies.
  • Family history: if a parent is allergic to pollen, the risk of also being allergic is higher.
  • Early and repeated exposure to grass pollens may increase the risk of developing sensitization and allergy.
  • Air pollution in cities: pollutants attack your walls at throat level, making you more vulnerable to different grasses.

Period of grass allergies: when do they occur?

The period in which grass allergies appear depends largely on the region in which you live.

In general, the grass allergy season extends from spring until fall, but it varies according to the species of grass present and the climatic conditions.

Thus, we generally observe:

  1. A first wave of pollination of grasses from the beginning of spring (April-May) with cereals in particular.
  2. A second wave of pollination during the summer (June-August) mainly concerns prairie grasses.
  3. A last wave of pollination at the end of summer and beginning of autumn (September-October) with bamboos and certain late grasses.

four metal buckets filled with green bamboo shoots

How to follow the period of grass allergies?

To better anticipate and manage the symptoms related to grass allergies, it is advisable to find out about the levels of pollen in your environment.

Several organizations and websites offer regular and detailed information on pollen concentrations for each region and each type of plant, as well as forecasts for the days to come.

This is the case of the Pollens site which allows you to follow the rate of grasses in your department in real time. You have to think about integrating it into your daily life now if you think you have a grass allergy.

Grass Allergy Treatment

There are several types of treatments that can relieve the symptoms of grass allergies:

  • Antihistamines : taken in pills, syrup or nasal spray form, they help control allergic reactions by blocking the action of histamine, a substance released by the body in response to an allergen.
  • Corticosteroids : available in the form of creams, ointments or nasal sprays, they reduce inflammation and relieve allergy symptoms.
  • Decongestants : used occasionally, they help clear blocked airways.
  • Desensitization : this treatment consists of gradually exposing the body to increasing doses of allergens to reduce sensitivity to pollen and reduce symptoms. This method must be supervised by a medical specialist (allergist) and generally extends over several years.

wheat sprout close-up in front of a wheat field

Tips for coping better with grass allergies

To limit exposure to grass pollen and alleviate symptoms, it is possible to follow some practical advice:

  1. Ventilate your home early in the morning or late in the evening when pollen concentrations are lower.
  2. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes when going outdoors.
  3. Avoid drying clothes outside during allergy season.
  4. Limit outdoor activities on hot, windy days.
  5. Wash your hands regularly and shower after coming home from outside to eliminate pollen present on the skin and hair.
  6. Wear an anti-pollution mask that protects against pollen when crossing areas with a high concentration of grasses.

Finally, it is important to consult a doctor in the event of persistent or disabling symptoms in order to establish an accurate diagnosis and adapt the treatment.

Grass allergies can indeed have a negative impact on your quality of life and should not be overlooked.