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When Does Pollen Season End

by Dan Hughes
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When Does Pollen Season End

When Does Pollen Season End

Pollen allergies are a serious problem for many people around the world. It’s estimated that up to 30 percent of Americans suffer from some type of allergy — including hay fever and asthma — with allergies being more common among children than adults.
This isn’t surprising considering that there are more than 20 million trees in North America alone. And these trees produce an average of 1,000 grains (grains = tiny seeds) of pollen per day during their peak flowering seasons. That means each tree can produce enough pollen to blanket your entire backyard or apartment building hallway with it within just one week! This is why allergy sufferers tend to experience symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and even hives when they’re exposed to certain types of allergens.
While most people know that pollen travels across the air via wind currents, not all pollens are created equal. In fact, there are actually three main categories of pollens: Tree, Grass and Ragweed. The timing of their respective seasons varies depending on where you live, but here’s a basic overview of what you need to know about them.
The Trees
“Tree pollen season is usually at the beginning of spring in March, April, and the first half of May,” explains Dr. Michael Eriksson, professor emeritus at the University of Washington School of Medicine in an email interview. “It is dominated by Betula [birch] and other trees.”
Each year, approximately 5 billion trees worldwide release billions of pollen grains into the atmosphere. But only those trees that have been fertilized will set this process into motion. These trees include oaks, maples, pines, poplars and elms.
Once airborne, pollen drifts across landscapes as far away as 10 miles, potentially causing problems for anyone who has ever walked down a sidewalk or taken a stroll along a country road. Tree pollen also tends to be light, sticky and easy to transport. As such, it can remain suspended in the air for days before settling onto surfaces. Once it does settle on objects, however, it can last anywhere between two weeks to several months.
Grasses have become one of the biggest causes of allergic reactions because humans aren’t naturally equipped to handle their large spikes in pollen production. Grasses are found everywhere, making them the largest source of allergens in our environment.
According to Eriksson, the grass pollen season lasts roughly four to five hours longer than the tree pollen season, which begins in late spring and continues through mid-summer. He notes that the typical grass pollen season starts in mid-April and ends in mid-July. During its duration, grasses produce 200 million grains of pollen daily — which translates to 300 pounds worth of airborne pollen floating above your head every single day.
Ragweeds are short plants that grow tall stalks. They are part of the daisy family and look similar to dandelions. However, unlike their larger cousins, ragweeds don’t have bright yellow petals surrounding their flowers. Instead, they feature long, thin leaves and stems with small white flowers growing out of their tops. Their blooming period lasts for six to eight weeks, giving them a much shorter window during which time they can cause issues for allergy sufferers.
But how do ragweeds manage to trigger allergic reactions? According to Eriksson, it has something to do with their propensity to spread their pollen across wide areas quickly. For example, if you’ve got 100 acres of land covered in ragweed, then you’ll start seeing increased cases of allergies throughout the neighborhood over time. On the flip side, if you own a smaller plot of land, then you won’t see any significant increases in allergy rates.
Of course, we mentioned earlier that different regions’ allergy seasons vary slightly. So if you live somewhere outside of the United States, you may want to consult your doctor or local health department for further information regarding the specific allergens prevalent in your area.
If you think allergies could be affecting your life in ways you weren’t aware of, then talk to your doctor. He or she can help diagnose your particular case using various allergy tests. Your physician also might suggest immunotherapy treatments or even prescribe antihistamines to treat your condition.

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