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Why don't allergists test for allergies to flowers?

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Updated September 30, 2008

Question: Why don't allergists test for allergies to flowers?
Answer: When people think of hay fever, the thought of brightly colored flowers come to mind. Even on many of the television commercials for allergy medications, you’ll see roses, daisies and other brightly colored flowers along with a woman sneezing. But when you go to the allergist, why aren’t you tested for allergies to these flowers?

It’s because most flowers depend on insects for pollination, and therefore the pollen from flowers is heavy and isn’t usually found in the air. Plants that are insect pollinated are termed entomophilous. If a plant has a colorful flower, it’s for a reason: To attract insects in order to carry its pollen to another flower for cross-pollination.

Most plants that cause a significant amount of allergies are wind-pollinated and are termed anemophilous. These plants, including most trees, grasses and some weeds, don’t have pretty flowers and don’t make colorful pollen.

Some people can have allergies to colorful flowers, and this is particularly true if a person has close contact with the flower. Florists and avid gardeners, for example, may suffer from allergies caused by colorful flowers as a result of frequent direct contact with the flowers. Otherwise, for the rest of us, allergies to flowers only occur on those special occasions when you actually receive flowers from a loved one.

Learn more about allergy to pollens.

Source:

Esch RE, Bush RK. Aerobiology of Outdoor Allergens. In: Adkinson NF, Yunginger JW, Busse WW, et al, eds. Middleton’s Allergy Principles and Practice. 6th edition. Philadelphia: Mosby Publishing; 2003:529-56.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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