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pollen on flower

Allergen of the month: flower pollen

Our next installment of our Allergen of the Month series is all about flower pollen.

In April, the arrival of spring flowers is an annual source of joy for most of us. But for people who suffer from allergies triggered by pollen, the season is a mixed blessing. Of course, plants with flowers need pollination to form new seeds that will, in turn, grow into new plants. But pollen can also cause allergic reactions, or pollinosis, especially when it’s spread by the wind.

Fast facts

• The more hybridized the flower—the result of growing plants from a seed created by two different plant varieties—the less likely it will have a high pollen level.

• Mountain laurels have a series of 10 arms, or filaments, that act like catapults, flinging pollen into the air at up to 8 miles per hour.

• Two breeds of sunflowers, apricot twist and joker, are hypoallergenic, because their pollen is too heavy to be carried by wind.

• Asters, dahlias and daisies are among the worst flowers for allergy-sufferers.

• The beloved rose, the world’s most popular flower, is also one of the most allergy-friendly.

Where to find them

While you can come across allergy-causing flowers in a great many places, some areas as worse than others. Dahlias, for example, thrive in the Northwest and especially in coastal areas. Chamomile grows freely in sunny, well-drained areas. And the speedy mountain laurels? They’re native to the eastern U.S.

How to treat them

• Take antihistamines, which are effective at treating mild cases of pollen allergies. Or try decongestants. Always talk to your doctor before starting any new medications.

• Talk to your doctor about allergy immunotherapy (AIT) treatment, which involves administering doses of allergens to accustom the body to pollen, thereby inducing specific long-term tolerance.

• Stay inside, if you can, on high-pollen days and days that are windy.

• Keep flowers out of the house. When they’re brought indoors, they can be even more irritating.

• To keep the presence of pollen to a minimum at home, use a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like Airmega.