‘Tis the season…for tree pollen allergies!
As we enter a new year, many of us are trying to live up to our New Year’s resolutions or get back on our feet after some excessive holiday spending. But for people living with tree pollen allergies, efforts are more likely geared toward protecting themselves from the upcoming onslaught of pollen during Florida’s tree pollen season. From late December through May, Florida’s trees enjoy using our extended springtime weather to mate, mate, and then mate some more. You’ll know when this period begins by the copious coating of sun-colored dust on everything outside – cars, sidewalks, houses…you may even turn yellow if you stand outside long enough!
In this post, we’ll list the trees that tend to contribute the most to tree pollen season in central Florida, discuss one particularly frisky type of tree, and go over some ways to keep tree pollen allergies at bay.
Tree Pollen Allergy Symptoms
Tree pollen causes what we refer to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis in people who are allergic to it. Hay fever is pretty common in the U.S. and causes sufferers to have:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose
- Itchy roof of the mouth
- Nasal congestion
- Swelling and/or dark circles under the eyes
- Facial pressure
The Offending Trees
While any type of tree can produce pollen during this season, there are a few types that seem to put in some pollen-producing overtime here in Florida:
- American Elms
- Pines (especially the Australian pine)
- River Birches
- Melaleuca tree
- Orange trees
You’ll notice maples producing pollen first, while oaks will produce the longest. Melaleuca and orange trees are both insect-pollinated, but they still leave a yellow film on everything around.
Did you notice that all the trees on the list above are not flowering trees? Many people mistakenly believe that trees that produce large, showy flowers and foliage are the biggest contributors to tree pollen season, but this is not the case. That’s because the pollen from flowering trees tends to be heavier and stickier than the pollen from the trees listed above. The heavier, stickier pollen falls to the ground faster and doesn’t have as much of a chance to spread around, so unless you have a flowering tree planted right next to your home, you may not even notice their pollen at all.
Oaks – A Major Culprit
No conversation about tree pollen season in Central Florida would be complete without a more in-depth discussion about Oak trees. Oak trees are a staple in many communities in and around Tampa Bay. These hardy, majestic hardwoods adorn both residential and commercial properties and are a beautiful native addition to any landscape. However, for tree pollen allergy sufferers, oak trees are the most malicious.
Oak trees have one of the longest pollen-producing seasons of any type of tree. Since they are so prevalent here in central Florida, this means we’re being lightly dusted with oak tree pollen for almost half of every year. Outside of moving somewhere colder for the first half of the year, people with allergies to Oak tree pollen don’t have much recourse without medical intervention.
How to Avoid Tree Pollen Allergies
Since tree pollen season is so long here in central Florida, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you minimize the symptoms of your allergies:
- Don’t go outside in the early morning
- Plan outdoor activities for the late afternoon or evening, or right after a rain shower
- Keep the windows closed in your home, car, and business if possible – use the air conditioner instead
- Keep your living spaces clean and dust-free
- Use hypoallergenic air filters in your home and vehicle and change them frequently
- Wear a mask while outside, preferably one made to block out allergens
- Change clothes (or better yet, take a shower) after each trip outdoors
Tree and Pollen Allergy Treatment in Tampa Bay
If our tips above are not enough to keep your tree pollen allergies in control, the next step is scheduling an appointment at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay. We recommend identifying your trigger allergens via skin testing. Once the triggers are identified, your allergist can prescribe a medication regimen to keep your allergies in check. If any of your allergies do not respond to medication, immunization may also be an option to desensitize you to the allergens. We offer allergy identification and treatment options at two Tampa Bay locations to fit any lifestyle and schedule. Contact us at (813) 971-9743 to schedule an appointment today.