Grass pollen allergy is extremely common. It's estimated 90% of the UK's season allergy sufferers are sensitive to this specific type. For comparison's sake, Birch tree pollen affects just 25% of these sufferers. As grass pollen allergy risks becoming more of a problem worldwide due to climate change, it's time to explore this allergen in a bit more detail.
What is Grass Pollen & How Does it Spread?
Grass, in all its varieties, is one of the most prevalent pollen-producing plants in suburban and urban areas. While there are many different types of grass, not all of them cause allergic reactions: In the US, common offenders include northern grasses like Kentucky Blue, Johnson, Rye, and Fescue, and southern grasses Bermuda and Bahia, while common allergenic grass pollen types in Europe include perennial ryegrass, as well as Orchard and Timothy.
Grass pollen is part of the plant's natural process of procreation: Pollen grains are microscopic particles that represent the male reproductive part of a seed plant and are produced to fertilize the female parts of the same plant species. Most allergenic grass pollen is spread through the air in a random, untargeted way - making it hard to avoid.
When is Grass Pollen Allergy Season?
In the Northern Hemisphere, grass pollen allergy season takes place during the late spring and early summer months. Some of the most common allergenic grass types traditionally reach peak pollen production times between May and June.
Location plays a huge factor in grass pollen concentration levels: For example, in different parts of Florida like Orlando and Palm Beach, Bermuda, and Bahia types are common, so naturally these areas tend to experience high levels of grass pollen during the summer months.
Grass Pollen Captured by BreezoMeter: Orlando, FL - April 25th, 2021
Grass Pollen Captured by BreezoMeter: Austin, Texas - April 25th, 2021
Grass Pollen Season Could Get Worse
Climate change has been linked to increased pollen concentrations due to warming temperatures: A 2021 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that total pollen concentrations in North America, produced by trees, weeds, and grass, had grown by 21% over the past three decades.
A recent study used statistical and mechanistic models to forecast the future impact of climate change on seasonal allergy caused by grass pollen. They found climate change could increase the severity of grass pollen season by up to 60% in northwest Europe, which will require both healthcare professionals and hay fever patients to prepare for aggravated seasonal allergy reactions.
What Can We Do About It?
Since grass pollen affects so many hay fever sufferers, health providers should be leveraging environmental pollen and weather information to give timely advice and help patients prevent symptom exacerbation:
Offering location-specific grass pollen forecasts in real-time: Help patients limit time outdoors during high pollen levels in their areas to reduce exposure throughout the day.
Providing actionable information to reduce pollen indoors during allergy season: Notify allergy sufferers when to close windows and engage air exchange systems to prevent indoor grass pollen presence from increasing and triggering symptoms.
Support treatment adherence: Alerting patients when to take prescribed pollen allergy medicine can help to prevent symptoms from manifesting or getting worse.
Propose functional pollen exposure management tips: Provide reminders on showering and washing clothes and upholstery, as well as drying indoors vs on outdoor lines, and inform patients on ideal lawn mowing times to limit grass pollen exposure.
Suggest useful lifestyle changes: Propose allergy sufferers wear hats and glasses more often to keep pollen out of eyes and hair. Recommend removing shoes before entering the home and more frequent vacuuming to get rid of as many allergens indoors as possible during peak grass pollen allergy season.
Mowing the Lawn: Keeping the grass at two inches or shorter can reduce the amounts of pollen that get released, but it’s also generally advised to mow later in the day when grass pollen counts are lower, and preferably not during peak grass pollen months (between May and June). Pollen forecast information can be used to alert sufferers when the risk is higher than at other times.
How to Reach Allergy Sufferers with Grass Pollen Data
Because peak grass pollen season coincides with warmer months when people spend more time outdoors, it’s important to find optimal ways to help allergy sufferers cope with the reality of grass pollen. Luckily, treatment providers can now utilize location-based pollen intelligence to target their advertisements, messages, and services directly to those who will benefit most.
Notifying patients ahead of time-based on localized pollen forecasts optimizes the delivery of preventive medicine and empowers individuals with information that helps prevent worsening symptoms and avoidable costs.
We explore common use cases for pollen data in much more detail in our dedicated on-demand webinar - listen below for free!