All Pollen Allergies are Not Created Equal

By: Bel Marra Health | Allergies | Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 12:42 AM

 immune systemIf you think that pollen allergies are all the same, think again. A recent medical report published in the journal Clinical and Translational Allergy showed that there are certain types of pollen that may result in more severe allergies and health damage than others. Seasonal allergies are commonly caused by airborne pollen, resulting in itching, sneezing, and fatigue, making it difficult to perform routine tasks such as working or studying. These allergy symptoms are actually responses of the immune system to foreign bodies or particles that have entered the body, thus the sneezing and runny nose are respiratory responses to eradicate these tiny particles in the body. Taking anti-allergic medications usually comprise the most common health tips against allergies, preventing further damage to the health of the exposed individual.

The Immune System Response

Despite the general response of the immune system to pollen and the accompanying health tips for treatment of allergies, it is of equal importance to know that several types of plants can produce pollen, of which may generate different levels of damage to the body. Pollen may thus come from trees, flowering plants, crops, and even grass, triggering a response from the affected individual’s immune system. For several decades, it has been a common notion that pollen generates the same type of response from the immune system and thus general health tips have been recommended for seasonal allergies. The allergy medications and health tips were assumed to be equally effective in treating most types of pollen allergies and preventing further health damage.

The recent report on grass pollen allergies showed that the degree of allergic reaction generated by the immune system varies according to the grass species that produced the pollen, thus health tips in treating these conditions and the extent of damage of health might also be different. The study examined the allergic response of approximately 233 participants to different grass species, including Bahia, Johnson, and Bermuda grasses. The allergic response based on the immune system was measured using the skin prick test, which involved introducing droplets of a specific grass allergen underneath the skin. Fifteen minutes after introducing the allergen, the diameter of the wheal or the reacting area surrounding the site of the prick, which represents the reaction of the immune system to the allergen, was measured. Wheals that were greater than 3 millimeters in diameter indicated a positive reaction generated by the immune system.

The results of the study showed that the diameter of the wheals were greater when allergen extracts from Bermuda and Bahia grass types were introduced to the forearms of the study participants. On the other hand, the diameter of the wheals generated from allergen extracts of Johnson grass was smaller, suggesting that the immune system did not extensively react to the presence of this particular extract and that the level of health damage might not be so severe. These results also suggest that the common health tips for the treatment of allergies may not be as effective as expected, based on the nature of the pollen.

What This Means for Your Allergies

The report on the variation in allergic reactions to pollen showed that the severity of response of the body’s immune system varies according to the nature of the allergen and thus, might influence the extent of health damage and the type of health tips for allergy treatment. The study showed differences in the degree of allergy based on the grass species, thus it is also possible that the nature of the pollen allergen may also result in varying levels of allergies. For example, pollen from trees may result in a different degree of allergy from pollen generated by flowering plants or grasses.

The medical report on varying responses to grass pollen may help medical practitioners in their description of treatment schemes and health tips for patients suffering from seasonal allergies. The information contributed by the report may also decrease the chances of further damage to the respiratory system, especially when the response of the immune system to pollen needs to be immediately addressed using proper treatments. In cases wherein allergic reactions to pollen are not rapidly treated with common and effective health tips, it is possible that the individual will suffer from further damage to his or her health by developing asthma.

It may be possible that in the future, allergic treatments and health tips will be developed on the basis of specific allergens. For example, it might be possible to design treatments for allergies caused by grass pollen and another treatment for immune reactions against tree pollen. The design of specific treatment regimens may also decrease the chances of inflicting extensive damage to the health of the affected individual.


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