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Pollen Allergies

How Does Pollen Cause Allergies?


Updated June 13, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Pollen Allergies

Microscopic view of ragweed pollen grains.


What is Pollen?

Pollen consists of tiny, egg-shaped, powdery grains released from flowering plants, which are carried by the wind or insects and serve to cross-pollinate other plants of the same type for reproductive purposes. When pollen is present in the air, it can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs and skin and cause an allergic reaction.

Symptoms of pollen allergy may include allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies) and allergic asthma.

Pollen that is spread by the wind is usually the main cause of seasonal allergies, while pollen that relies on insects (such as the honeybee) to carried it to other plants do not. Most plants with bright, vibrant flowers, such as roses, are pollinated by insects and do not generally cause seasonal allergies since the pollen is not usually present in the air.

How Do I Know If I Have Pollen Allergies?

An allergist can help determine if you have seasonal allergies, and to which types of pollen (trees, weeds or grasses) you are allergic. This is accomplished through allergy testing, which typically involves skin testing or a blood test (RAST). Allergy testing can be helpful in predicting the times of the year that you are likely to experience allergy symptoms and is needed if you are interesting in taking allergy shots or allergy drops.

Find out about the treatment of hay fever.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergies. Website accessed March 20, 2010.

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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  4. Allergy Basics
  5. Pollen and Mold Allergy
  6. Pollen and Allergies - How Do I Know if I'm Allergic?

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