Pollen allergy is fairly common in India. No, not maple, oak or birch. These plants are not found in the plains of India, yet they are included in the allergy testing panel of major blood allergy tests.
Pollen allergies can cause asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, skin rashes and other manifestation of allergy.
common symptoms are sneezing, itching, dark circles under the eyes (allergic shiners), allergic salute(persistent rubbing of the nose to push it up, most common in children, and conjunctivitis.
This is known as Pollinosis
So which plants fairly commonly cause allergies in India?
A lot of flowering plants grow in the tropical climate of India. Some plants which flower throughout the year spread pollen all the year round. They are known as perennial plants. They can cause allergy throughout the year. Most of the grasses, mustard, castor oil, papaya tree , mesquite and weeds like parthenium, amaranthus and chenopodium shed pollen throughout the year.
While plants like mango tree and a few other plants flower in specific seasons
However as per the Aria guidelines allergies are no longer classified into seasonal or perennial. They are known as persistent or intermmitent, mild, moderate or severe depending on the duration.
Common Allergy seasons are January to June, when most flowering plants shed pollen. and post monsoon till Novemberwhen tnere is a spurt in grass and weeds.
Global warming has lead to increased pollen allergy due to increased summer and warm climate favouring flowering of grasses and other trees.
What are weeds? weeds are small plants which are not planted deliberately. Their seeds are carried on the wind. They grow on the side of the road or in vacant lots like below
So a lot of people believe that pollen allergy is a thing of open grasslands and villages, not the cities. Wrong. A lot of wild plants and weeds which grow at the sides of gutters and the road fairly can cause allergy.
Pollen from grass and some trees is very small and is carried by the wind from one plant to the other. Some pollen can travel for hundreds of kilometres , mixing with the dust in the cities .Pollutants like smoke, petrol and diesel fumes in the air can worsen your allergies.
Following plants cause allergy throughout the year:
Plants like Doob grass or bermuda grass, the common Durva grass which is used for the pooja of Lord Ganesha. It is commonly used as a lawn grass. It is a major course of allergy
Congress grass or Parthenium. It is a common weed and grows at the side of the road, in grassland and vacant lots.
Amaranthus and Chenopodum are found in the same way.
Agreratum Conyzoides or Nilam, Xanthium or cockleburr.
Brassica nigra or sarson, mustard plants
Papaya tree, castor oil tree and coconut trees are fairly common all over india
Another common tree is the raintree. It is found in all major cities of India
Mango trees can cause allergy. They are seasonal plants from March to April
Papdi or Holoptelia
Prosopis or mesquite trees, commonly known as vilayati bavad, Pahadi Kikar,is a fairly common plant found at the edge of open grasslands on the outskirts of cities.
Ipomoea or Morning glory
Prevention of pollen allergy in Cities:
- Pollen dispersion is more in early morning and late evening. Avoid going outside during that time.
- Avoid morning walks in Pollen season.
- Wear a mask or cover your face while outside. Wear full sleeve clothes
- Take a shower on reaching home immediately and put your clothes to wash to remove pollen particles stuck to it.
- Wash your hair often
- Encourage planting of trees which are non invasive and known to be non allergic
- symptomatic medication as prescribed by your doctor
- Allergy testing for pollen
- Allergy vaccines or allergen specific immunotherapy. This is a natural , safe and long term treatment for allergies. More details are available on the post