Birch pollen

Birch catkins

Birch catkins

Birch trees are deciduous trees native to northern locations with cool, moist soil and lots of sunshine. They are part of the Betulaceae family that also includes: alder, hornbeam, hop-hornbeam, and hazel trees.

Birch trees have become popular for landscaping but they are also used for:

  • Timber
  • Furniture, cabinets, floors, and doors
  • Firewood
  • Canoes
  • Roofing
  • Re-colonizing forests affected by fires and logging
  • Extracting oils from their wood for various uses such as:
    • Fragrance for leather
  • Syrup by harvesting their sap

When is birch pollen season?

Birch pollen is produced by their flowers, called catkins, and released in the spring, as early as March, depending on their location and climate. Catkins are a long spherical flower that doesn’t actually look like a flower (see the picture above). Once the birch tree pollen is released it’s carried by the wind for the purpose of pollinating the female part of the tree for reproduction, also called a catkin. Unfortunately, the wind also blows birch tree pollen into your home, on your clothes, and into the air where it will enter your nose, throat, and lungs. For this reason, many people experience allergies to the birch pollen.

What are the symptoms of birch pollen allergies?

Birch pollen is very allergenic pollen and the number one cause of hay fever. In allergic people it can also cause an asthma attack, conjunctivitis, and oral allergy syndrome.

Which foods have cross-reactions with birch pollen?

Cross-reactions between birch pollen and foods can occur due to something known as oral allergy syndrome. With oral allergy syndrome you may experience an itchy mouth after eating raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts. (For more information on oral allergy syndrome click here). If you have a birch pollen allergy you may experience cross-reactions with one or more of these foods:  almond, aniseed, apple, apricot, caraway, carrot, celery, cherry, coriander, fennel, hazelnut, kiwi, parsley, peach, pear, peanut, plum, and soybean. (To see a detailed oral allergy syndrome food list please click here). Apples being the most common cross-reaction associated with birch pollen.

How do you diagnose and treat birch pollen allergies?

For more information regarding the diagnosis of birch pollen allergies related to oral allergy syndrome please click here.

For more information regarding the treatment of birch pollen allergies related to oral allergy syndrome please click here.

For more information regarding birch pollen allergies related to hay fever please click here.

 

References

Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition. Click here to read the full disclaimer.
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