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Birch pollen allergy

Immunotherapy, an attractive option in the treatment of birch pollen allergy

Birch pollen allergy, seasonal allergies

When people are said to be birch allergic, they are in fact usually allergic to the birch pollen. And no need to take down the birch tree in your backyard! Pollen from birch trees 30 kilometers around cause this springtime seasonal respiratory allergy, usually from the end of april to early june.

Other trees’ pollen such as beech, oak, maple and poplar can also cause springtime respiratory allergies and their symptoms. Alder’s main allergenic protein is biologically quite similar to that of birch hence people usually being allergic to the pollen of both.

Birch pollen allergy : a common seasonal allergy

Birch trees are common in Canada, the Eastern US and Scandinavia. Birch pollen allergy is a major cause of seasonal allergies in Canada, particularly in the eastern provinces.

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Symptoms

Birch pollen allergy : rhinitis, often a first sign

As for other respiratory allergies, birch pollen allergy often becomes evident through rhinitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose) with sneezing (often in fits), nasal congestion, nasal discharge and itchiness. At the level of the eyes and in the same way as grass or ragweed pollens associated to hay fever, birch pollen can cause conjunctivitis with itchy, watery eyes and swelling of the very lining of the eyes.

The symptoms of an allergy to the pollen of birch or other trees can be most uncomfortable and may seriously impede one’s productivity at work (a notion more recently referred to as « presenteeism ») or academic achievement for children. Sneezing fits may appear funny for some but the associated nasal congestion, fatigue and even asthma should alert us as to a much more serious ailment. As with other respiratory allergies, the mere treatment of the symptoms of birch pollen allergy may not control the associated risk of further allergies and the eventual extension of the disease to the lungs with asthma, coughing, wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness.

The birch pollen related pollen-food syndrome (oral allergy syndrome)

It is not uncommon for itchiness of the mouth and the lips upon eating apples, pears or celeri (among others) to be the first clue of a birch pollen allergy. Hazelnuts and peanuts can also be involved in this particular type of food allergy related to birch pollen allergy. This is the pollen-food syndrome or oral allergy syndrome associated to birch pollen protein Bet v 1. Molecular allergy has determined that this birch pollen protein is but one of a vegetal family of stress proteins also found in numerous fruits and vegetables. Itchiness of the mouth in this context does not relate to some insecticide put on apples but rather to the syndrome of Lessof who described this particular pattern of local reaction sometimes affecting the lips, tongue, mouth and throat. It must be viewed as a warning. Although these food items can generally be well tolerated in cooked form, it is recommended to see a specialist to ascertain the situation.


Molecular allergy, to ascertain birch pollen allergy

Whether to ascertain birch pollen allergy before immunotherapy or in the context of food allergies, AVANT GARDE MédicalMD can represent unique expertise in using molecular allergy to further refine the diagnosis of allergy. While some scientific papers suggest that birch pollen allergy immunotherapy can lessen or resolve the corresponding pollen-food syndrome, further studies will be needed before we have an official word from science in this regard.

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Treat your birch pollen allergy with sublingual immunotherapy

While anithistamines and topical nasal steroids can help control the symptoms of a seasonal allergy such as birch pollen allergy, these medicines do not interfere with the risk of further allergies or the development of asthma. By starting a few months before the birch pollen allergy season (usually from the end of April to the beginning of June in Quebec), sublingual immunotherapy represents an attractive solution not only to control symptoms but indeed to change the course of this seasonal allergy. Effective and simple, sublingual immunotherapy adds a welcome option in the treatment of birch pollen allergy.

Learn more about sublingual immunotherapy

Molecular allergy,
to ascertain birch pollen allergy

Whether to ascertain birch pollen allergy before immunotherapy or in the context of food allergies, AVANT GARDE MédicalMD can represent unique expertise in using molecular allergy to further refine the diagnosis of allergy. While some scientific papers suggest that birch pollen allergy immunotherapy can lessen or resolve the corresponding pollen-food syndrome, further studies will be needed before we have an official word from science in this regard.

Learn more about sublingual immunotherapy

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