Plant allergies result from allergens that release large amounts of histamines distributed on the cellular level, which cause inflammatory responses such as runny noses and eyes, nausea, sleep disorders and stomach ulcers. National studies show that allergies are on the rise in America. Climate change is to blame as higher temperatures result in earlier, and longer, pollinating seasons and a rise in ragweed populations.
Basically, plant allergies represent a reaction of the immune system to things such as pollen and dust. Pollen triggers allergies as the body gears up to fight allergens. Common allergy complaints include stuffy nose and watery eyes. For many, it is an irritating reaction with some wheezing, coughing and sneezing. For others, plant allergies can create serious health concerns, including asthma and even death.
Common Plant Allergies
When it comes to plant allergies, enemy number one is ragweed. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says about 75 percent of all plant allergies are caused by ragweed exposure. Hay fever is considered the most common complaint among plant allergy sufferers, affecting an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all Americans. It is responsible for 2.5 percent of all doctor visits, according to health studies.
Summer and fall are peak allergy seasons as trees get ragweed all over place, which means riverbanks, fields, rural areas, suburbs and cities harbor the stuff that makes for plant allergies. The list of carriers of plant allergies is long. Mountain cedar, maple, elm, mulberry, oak, pecan and cypress trees create pollen and ragweed.
Grasses of all types pose major concerns for plant allergies that affect Americans of all ages. Allergy-free grass simply does not exist. Grasses create pollen and mold. Ryegrass in spring and summer is very problematic for allergies. Blue, orchard and timothy grasses are likely to cause allergies. Even tumbleweed, Russian thistle and green molly cause significant allergic reactions.
Management and Treatment of Plant Allergies
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says plant allergies can be inherited. However, just like any genetic factor, not every person with positive allergy markers show signs of plant allergies. Researchers show genes specifically account for half of plant allergies. Other factors such as allergen exposure also contribute to allergies depending on the time and amount of allergens in play. Sometimes allergies do not show themselves immediately, but become a problem after years of allergen exposure.
People manage and treat their plant allergies through antihistamines. These were introduced to the American public in the form of Antergan in the early 1940s. As the name implies, antihistamines suppress the histamines causing plant allergies and reactions. The problem with early antihistamines was that they often caused drowsiness. A second tier of antihistamines were developed in the 1980s to deal with allergies. The most popular of these was Ranitidine, which was sold to consumers as Zantac. New types of antihistamines are on the market to treat and manage allergies today, delivering better treatments with fewer side effects.