What Are the Symptoms of a Grass Allergy?

Learn to Identify the Different Symptoms of Grass Allergies

Grass Allergy
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Grass pollen is known to cause a variety of different allergic reactions. Grass pollen is most present in the air during the late spring and early summer months and can cause allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and asthma. Direct skin contact with grass, from sitting in the grass or mowing the lawn, can cause itching, urticaria (also known as hives), and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Grass allergy can also be associated with fruit pollen syndrome resulting in food allergies to tomatoes, potatoes, and peaches.

Summer Pollen Allergies

Grass pollen is usually the predominant pollen in the air during the summer. If you are allergic to grass, you may experience sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Some people with grass allergies may also experience asthma attacks.

There are two major classes of grass: northern and southern grasses. Northern grasses are common in colder climates and include timothy, rye, orchard, sweet vernal, red top, and blue grasses. Southern grasses are present in warmer climates, with Bermuda grass being the major grass in this category. If you have a grass allergy, you are more likely to be allergic to most types of grasses, if not all grasses, as grass pollens have very similar proteins that cause allergies. An allergy test can determine which strains you are allergic to. 

Skin Allergies and Grass

Grass is unique in that it is one of the only plants that we frequently have direct skin contact with.

Blades of grass have microscopic barbs that, when in direct contact with the skin, can result in allergic reactions such as itching, hives, and atopic dermatitis.

Oral antihistamines can treat itching and hives caused by direct grass exposure. They are especially effective when combined with bathing or changing clothes after significant grass exposure, such as after a soccer game.

Food Allergies and Grass Pollen

Allergies to grass can predispose a person to oral allergy syndrome (OAS) caused by cross-reactivity between proteins in fresh fruits and vegetables and grass pollen.

Grass pollen allergy is associated with OAS to tomatoes, potatoes, and peaches. The proteins in the fruits and vegetables that cause OAS can be easily broken down by cooking or processing the offending foods. That's why symptoms don’t usually occur with cooked or processed foods like tomato sauce.

If you eat a fresh tomato, however, you may experience itching, burning, or stinging in your mouth, throat, and tongue. The symptoms generally last only a few seconds or minutes, as the proteins that cause the symptoms are broken down quickly by saliva. Anaphylaxis from OAS is rare but can occur.

Treating Grass Allergies

If you think you might have a grass allergy, speak to your physician and get tested. If you have a confirmed grass allergy, there are ways to reduce your exposure and lessen your symptoms. If you are exposed to grass and have an allergic reaction, you can take over the counter antihistamines to relieve your symptoms. Severe allergies may require prescription medication. You can also try immunotherapy – the introduction of small amounts of an allergen into your system – which, in time, may lessen your reaction to grass.


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