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Allergies to grass and weeds usually stem from the pollens the plants create. If fresh-cut grass or a walk in the park causes your nose to run or your eyes to itch, you’re not alone. Grass can pose a problem for many people.
However, there are ways you can manage your grass allergy to keep reactions to a minimum. Read on to learn preventive methods and treatment options.
An allergic reaction occurs when you come in contact or breathe in a substance you’re hypersensitive to. Grass allergies occur when you breathe in pollen coming from the type of grass that causes your immune system to attack.
If you suspect a grass allergy but haven’t received a diagnosis yet, your doctor may do a skin test to determine the existence of your allergies and to see what exactly may be causing them. Depending on the severity of your allergy, the allergen can cause various reactions in your body.
Grass pollen allergy symptoms can develop quickly or after a period of time after coming in contact with the allergen. The most common symptoms include:
- runny or stuffy nose
- itchy throat, mouth, skin, or eyes
- puffy eyes
- headache or sinus pressure
- teary eyes
If you’re having mild difficulty breathing, contact your doctor. But if you’re having severe trouble taking a breath, seek immediate medical attention.
You could be allergic to one type of grass or many. Identifying the type of grass causing your allergy can help you try to avoid it. The most common grasses that cause allergies are:
- Bermuda grass
- sweet vernal grass
- Kentucky blue grass
- timothy grass
- orchard grass
The best way to treat your grass allergy is to avoid the allergen — but this is easier said than done sometimes. Here are four steps to reduce your reactions to grass if you can’t avoid it:
1. Reduce exposure
When you can, try to avoid being around the grass that irritates you. You may want to avoid mowing your lawn or have someone else do it.
Wear protective clothing to shield your skin and eyes from the grass. Don’t put your laundry outside to dry. Pollen can stick to your clothes, towels, and sheets.
2. Watch the pollen count
If the grass pollen count is high, avoid going outside as much as possible. You can find the pollen count online. Learn when the season of highest grass pollen counts is in your area, too.
If you must go outdoors, wear a face mask for pollen. You can purchase online or at your local drugstore.
3. Keep the outdoors out
If you’ve been outside, change your clothes once you come indoors. Try to shower after exposure to grass.
Keep your windows closed in time of high pollen or if your grass is being mowed. This will help keep the grass pollen outside.
4. Use medication
If you have a mild allergy to grass, you can use over-the-counter allergy medication to combat the symptoms. If your allergy is more severe or frequent, your doctor may prescribe one of the following:
- nasal corticosteroid sprays
- prescription antihistamines
- immunotherapy shots
- prescription decongestants
Most of your grass allergy symptoms can be easily managed by avoiding contact with your allergen. Having antihistamines and decongestants on hand or in your medicine cabinet can help during those situations where you have to be outdoors in close proximity to grass.
If you’re experiencing extreme chest tightness and shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention.