For most people in the UK grass pollen is the key trigger for their hay fever. But if you tend to get hay fever symptoms earlier in the year than other people, it could well be that you’re one of a significant number of people who are allergic to tree pollen. About 20% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to tree pollen.
In the UK, the trees most likely to release pollen that causes hay fever are birch, alder, hazel and horse chestnut. If you’re allergic to tree pollen, you will probably find that your symptoms are at their worst between March and May.
The birch tree releases its pollen between March and May, and hay fever sufferers are likely to experience the worst of their symptoms during April. Birch tree pollen counts will be at their highest on dry, warm days, especially if there’s a breeze over areas wooded with birch trees. If you are allergic to birch pollen, you may also react to celery, raw tomato, raw carrots, apples and pears. Once the birch tree pollen season is over, the oak tree pollen season begins. This is usually towards the end of April and early May. More people are allergic to birch pollen rather than oak pollen.
The birch tree is not the only culprit for causing the symptoms of hay fever. If your hay fever begins really early in the year – perhaps as early as January – it could be that you’re allergic to the pollen of another type of tree. The hazel, elm, alder and yew are all capable of causing hay fever in some people, and can release pollen very early in the year.