Grass Pollen Allergy - hay fever symptoms & treatment

After birch, beech and oak have died down, there is only a brief sigh of relief for many allergy sufferers: a large number of grasses begin to bloom directly afterwards. Besides tree pollen, grass pollen is one of the most common allergy triggers. Besides tree pollen, grass pollen is one of the most common allergy triggers.

Pollenflug - Wiese Quelle: Maryna Kovalchuk/Shutterstock.com - Copyright: Scientific DX GmbH, 2019

What is grass allergy?

Grass pollens are microscopic allergens. They are spread by the wind and can travel up to more than 100 km. Thus, local avoidance of grasses often only protects allergy sufferers to a limited extent. Even in urban areas, sufferers often experience symptoms. How does a grass allergy develop? A grass allergy develops when the immune system reacts hypersensitively to grass pollen. Just as with a house dust mite or animal hair allergy, it is a so-called type I allergy. In this case, allergen-specific IgE antibodies are formed on first contact with the allergenic pollen. The patient is thus "sensitized". Upon repeated contact with the pollen, these IgE antibodies cause an allergic reaction within a few seconds or minutes. This is therefore also referred to as an immediate-type allergy.

Pollenflugkalender (PDF)

How does grass allergy develop?

Sensitization occurs during the first contact with the allergen, i.e. pollen. This first contact is comparable to a familiarization of the substance and the immune system and is still free of symptoms. The symptoms appear only at the repeated contact, when the immune system already knows the foreign protein substance and starts to react to its components. This can also be hereditary.

Often, allergic reactions appear in childhood, but allergies can also appear for the first time in adulthood. In the case of an allergy, the body develops its own reaction pattern, which is why harmless substances subsequently lead to problems. The body's own substances such as histamine are released and subsequently cause discomfort.

The higher the pollen concentration in the air, the more severe the complaints of those affected. The season and thus the pollen season as well as the weather are the decisive factors for the intensity of the stress. As a rule, the burden occurs between the months of May to September. If there is an allergy to several types of grasses, the stress can be intensified by different or overlapping flowering times.

Symptome einer Gräserpollenallergie

  • Juckende Nase
  • Häufiges Niesen
  • Fließschnupfen
  • Gerötete, juckende Augen

Was zuerst harmlos klingt sollte nicht unterschätzt werden. Viele Gräserpollenallergikerinnen bzw. -allergiker schlafen aufgrund ihrer Beschwerden schlecht, sind erschöpft und während der Pollensaison nicht voll leistungsfähig. Bleibt eine Gräserpollenallergie lange unentdeckt und wird nicht ausreichend behandelt, können bronchiale Symptome hinzukommen. Ein sogenannter Etagenwechsel findet statt und die Beschwerden wandern von den oberen zu den unteren Atemwegen. Aus vermehrten Hustenreiz kann sich Asthma entwickeln.

Frau schneuzt sich

What are the symptoms of grass pollen allergy?

  • Itchy nose
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Red, itchy eyes

What sounds harmless at first should not be underestimated, however. Many grass pollen allergy sufferers sleep poorly due to their symptoms, are exhausted and are not fully productive during the pollen season. If a grass pollen allergy remains undetected for a long time and is not adequately treated, bronchial symptoms may develop. A so-called staircase change takes place and the complaints move from the upper to the lower respiratory tract. At first, the patient feels an increased urge to cough, which can develop into asthma.

How is grass allergy diagnosed and treated?

The most important therapy of an allergy is always to avoid the trigger as best as possible - with the small grass pollen, which is widely spread by the wind, completely difficult. Nevertheless, there are numerous tips for grass allergy sufferers that can provide relief. After diagnosis of a grass allergy, antihistamines can also alleviate the symptoms.

With the help of a blood test it can be determined exactly whether and to which grasses the body reacts. If a pollen allergy has been diagnosed, it is highly advisable to consult an allergist immediately. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, immediate medication can already help to get the symptoms under control.

However, this is not a cure. With the help of a detailed medical history and your test results, your attending physician can plan a targeted therapy and prescribe the appropriate treatment. In order to avoid allergens, it is also advisable to check the pollen count for your region again and again, so as not to expose yourself to unnecessary and avoidable stress.

Immunotherapy for grass pollen allergy?

The only therapy that not only combats the symptoms but also counteracts the cause of the disease is specific immunotherapy. This involves administering increasing concentrations of the allergen to the body in order to slowly accustom it to the allergen. The goal is to minimize the excessive immune response and increase allergen tolerance.

There are two forms of hyposensitization:

In grass immunotherapy, the allergen can be administered both in

  • injections (SCIT - subcutaneous immunotherapy) or tablets (SLIT - sublingual immunotherapy).
  • tablets (SLIT - sublingual immunotherapy).

It was proven years ago that subcutaneous immunotherapy against grass pollen can prevent a change of stage or, if this has already occurred, improve symptoms in asthmatics.

The efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy via ingestion of grass extract tablets is comparable to that of injection immunotherapy. Here, too, the symptoms of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) with or without asthma can be alleviated.

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This article has been reviewed by unserem Medical-Team for accuracy of content.

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