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tree sneezing out pollen

I’m Not Allergic to Trees, Just Pollen

Today, I was talking to someone about their asthma. I asked them if they had allergies too because I noticed the pollen count was very high for trees. They said that they aren’t allergic to trees – just pollen.

I told them trees have pollen.

They said, “hmmm.”

Trees have pollen

I pulled out my phone and showed them the pollen count chart from our local allergy and asthma clinic. The clinic posts the pollen count each day on Facebook and I noticed that Elm trees are in the Very High category, and Cottonwood trees are in the High category.

I wanted them to see that trees do indeed have pollen! So do flowers, grasses, and weeds.

Pollen and seasonal allergies

For those of you with a pollen allergy, you might call it “hay fever.” Doctors usually call it “allergic rhinitis.” If you have seasonal allergies, you are in good company! 60 million people in the U.S. have allergies.1

You might have:

If you are miserable with allergies, how can you find out what you are allergic to? There are a couple of options.

Skin prick test

It isn’t as bad as it sounds. All of my kids have had skin prick tests several times to adjust the serum for their allergy shots. Shot Nurse would lightly scratch the skin on the kid’s backs with a plastic vial filled with the allergen. We would wait 20 minutes and see how big the welt would be on their back. That helped the doctor find out what they were allergic to.

Blood test

Skin prick tests aren’t for everyone. Kids (and adults) can have a hard time sitting still during the test. And since you have to stop taking allergy medicine to have the test, it can make for a miserable time.

Talk to your doctor so you can find out the best way test to see what you are allergic to.

In the next post, I’ll talk about what you can do to survive allergy season. So stay tuned!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Allergies Statistics and Facts. Healthline. Accessed on May 28, 2019. From:


  • BBdgh
    9 months ago

    I took the skin prick tests to discover I don’t have allergies, I’m just sensitive to particles in the air. No medication to help this, I don’t get allergic response, just local response. It means all the OTC meds my friends have for allergies won’t work and they don’t understand and keep pushing. They mean well.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi again, BBdgh, and thanks for this post. I’m so glad to hear you are learning more and more about your condition. Ultimately, the more you know, the better able you will be to manage your condition and maintain more control over your asthma. This will help you to have continued successful vacations as well – and we know how much you enjoyed the recent one! Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • robthorn2
    9 months ago

    Is there any synergy between asthma & hay fever? Our hyper-vigilant immune systems (for asthma sufferers) could link the two. I’m a long-time asthma sufferer and have developed 2 different forms of hay fever – one to fir pollen (from living in the Pacific Northwest for 15+ years in my 30s), another for certain grass pollens (for living in the Midwest the past 20+ years). Neither, however, seems to appreciably exacerbate my asthma.

    BTW, it seems misleading to say that I’m allergic to trees or grasses, since I don’t develop any response to the plants. Your subject is spot-on when she says that she is allergic to pollen. She was just a little unsure about the source of that pollen. You wouldn’t want her to start avoiding trees like some people avoid cats, would you? She just needs to be aware that she need some type of prophylactic during pollen-release season for her specific trigger pollens. Don’t need to make people ‘nature-haters’ when it isn’t called for.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi. Great question. I think the answer relies in the type of immune cells involved. In the case of allergies and asthma, it’s the Th2 Dominant response ( Chemicals released from Th2 cells cause inflammation of your respiratory tract, including your nose, sinuses, and respiratory tract. Hope this helps. John. Site Moderator.

  • wheezie1
    9 months ago

    I had skin prick allergy testing and allergy shots at the age of 2 to treat severe eczema. They were not much help at that point – many years ago. I went on to develop seasonal “Hay Fever”, and by 17, had my first exercise-induced asthma attack. My asthma was mild intermittent until my 50’s, becoming gradually more persistent and severe. After testing positive for IgE last August, I began Xolair, having gone through most of the usual levels of asthma meds. This spring is the first time that I have not had a major exacerbation, having had 3 the previous year, with 3 tapers of high dose prednisone. My asthma is still not completely controlled, with any weather changes being my most prominent trigger. I have noticed recently that I could be in the same room with a cat and not have an embarassing asthma attack (most people don’t get that “I’m allergic to cats” is a real thing). Adjusting to asthma as an all-day everyday reality and learning to live with limits and still find joy in life is challenging, but possible. I have had numerous ER visits and IV Steroids in the past, but am grateful that the newer meds are available now. I walk when I can – outside or inside – and love spinning on the now rare occasions when the planets allign and the weather and how I am feeling allow it. Anyone else out there have experience to share about living with persistent asthma?

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