Pollen Allergy and a Cough

Pollen is one of the most common types of allergens. Grains of pollen are expelled into the air from trees, grasses and weeds in different regions and at different times of the year. Coughing is one of many symptoms of pollen allergy, which can be relieved with proper treatment. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends seeing a doctor if your cough has lasted more than three weeks. Even if you are currently being treated for pollen allergy, you might need a new medication to help alleviate your symptoms. Ask your doctor, however, before taking allergy medications on your own.

A cough from pollen allergies is caused by throat irritation and postnasal drip. Credit: Barış URUNLU/iStock/Getty Images

Causes and Symptoms

Pollen grains are responsible for hay fever, a type of allergy that causes symptoms when you are exposed to certain substances in the air to which you are allergic. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that 35 million Americans experience seasonal hay fever every year. When you breathe in pollen particles, they can become trapped in your nose and throat. Irritation in the mouth is one cause of coughing. A stuffy nose and postnasal drip are other causes of coughing associated with pollen allergy. Medline Plus notes that other symptoms of hay fever include sneezing and itchy eyes with dark circles underneath.

Preventive Measures

Pollen allergies can be prevented by limiting your exposure. This can be a challenge, especially if pollen counts are high in your region. Pollen easily transfers through the air, and the wind can carry the grains for miles. Still, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says there are a few things you can do to minimize bringing pollen into your home. Shower immediately after coming in from outdoors and leave your windows shut. Consider wearing a face mask if you must venture outside when the pollen count is particularly high.


Over-the-counter antihistamines can help prevent allergic reactions to pollen, while decongestants can help alleviate postnasal drip that can cause coughing. Always check with your physician before starting any new medications. Severe pollen allergy and subsequent coughing might require a prescription medication. Medline Plus recommends allergy shots as a long-term method of relief from pollen sensitivity. Also referred to as immunotherapy, allergy shots increase your immunity to pollen over the course of several months and even sometimes years of treatment.

Emergency Treatment

Certain criteria warrant an immediate attention from a doctor. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends emergency treatment for your cough if it is accompanied by blood, excessive weight loss and a fever in excess of 101 degrees. You should also seek medical treatment if you suspect that a persistent cough is related to asthma. Many hay fever patients have asthma, and pollen can aggravate symptoms. However, not all hay fever patients develop asthma. Aside from cough, asthma is marked by wheezing and breathing difficulties.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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