About the allergen birch pollen
Birch pollen is one of the most common sources of pollen allergy in Europe. Pollen from birches is spread in the air during the spring and can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to pollen. When pollen is inhaled, the body's immune system perceives it as foreign and dangerous, and responds by producing IgE antibodies that release histamines. The histamines then cause the allergic symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, itchy throat and nose, and breathing problems.
Allergic reactions to birch pollen can also trigger asthma, especially in people who already have asthma or other lung problems. To reduce the risk of allergic reactions to birch pollen, people with pollen allergies can try to avoid being outdoors during periods of high pollen levels, use allergy medications, try allergen immunotherapy (a type of vaccination) and air purifiers in the home to reduce symptoms.
It is also important to note that birch pollen is not the only pollen that can cause allergic reactions in humans. In Sweden, the most common allergy-causing types of pollen also come from deciduous trees such as alder and hazel, but also from grass and ash.
What happens in the body during an allergic reaction?
In an allergic reaction to an allergen, such as birch pollen, the body's immune system produces IgE antibodies. These antibodies are specific for the allergenic substance and bind to mast cells and basophils in the body. When the same allergen then returns to the body, it binds to the IgE antibodies on the mast cells and basophils, triggering a cascade of reactions that release histamines and other substances that cause allergic symptoms.
How can I find out if I am allergic to birch pollen?
It is possible to test whether you have IgE antibodies against pollen through a blood test. A blood test can be used to test for different allergens, including pollen from different trees, grasses and weeds. By measuring the levels of IgE antibodies in the blood, it is possible to investigate whether you are allergic to a specific pollen allergen. This can be a useful tool in diagnosing pollen allergy and helping to develop a treatment plan to reduce allergy symptoms.