Tree allergies can be mild, producing symptoms such as watery eyes and a runny nose. Or, they can be life-threatening. It all depends on what part of the tree you are allergic to. Most people who complain of tree allergies are actually allergic to the pollen. This is sometimes called “hay fever.” Pollen allergies do not usually pose a serious health threat. A few people are allergic to tree nuts, which is a food allergy, and much more serious.
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to what it perceives to be a threatening foreign substance. The reaction of the antibodies to the substance causes the classic symptoms of allergies.
An allergy to tree pollen will cause itchy, watering eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, headaches, and coughing due to mucus dripping down the throat. The symptoms of an allergy to tree nuts vary, but usually the mouth appears red and swollen. Hives can appear on the face and body. Itchy, red eyes, sneezing, and coughing are common. In severe cases, a person allergic to tree nuts may have trouble breathing, or she may vomit and have diarrhea. In such cases, immediate medical attention is necessary.
Fewer than 100 species of trees actually produce pollen that causes allergies, but that does not make them less of a problem. Tree pollen is particularly troublesome because it spreads so widely through the air — up to 400 miles from the source, according to “The Washington Post.” In addition, many release their pollen very early, especially if they are located in the South, making for a long allergy season. Elm, walnut, oak, sycamore, olive and male maple trees are some of the more common. Trees that produce nuts that cause allergic reactions in some people include walnut trees, pecan trees, beech trees, almonds and macadamias.
If you are allergic to tree pollen, stay indoors in the morning, which is when tree pollen is most widespread, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Keep windows closed, and be aware that pollen can be brought indoors on clothing or pets. For that reason, do not hang clothes outside to dry, and brush your pet before bringing him inside. If you are allergic to tree nuts, prevention simply means taking pains not to eat any.
While tree pollen allergies aren’t usually serious, nut allergies can be life-threatening. For that reason, care must be taken to examine the label thoroughly before eating or using something that may contain tree nuts. Tree nuts can be hidden in many foods. They can be found in chocolate, muffins, cookies, granola and ice cream, to name a few. Tree nuts can also be found in non-food items, such as suntan lotion, shampoo and coffee.