Pollen is described as microspores from seed plants such as grasses, ragweed and trees that insects or wind transport in the process of fertilization. Individuals who are highly sensitive to pollen might be exposed by breathing in the miniature spores or react to injections of the material to help desensitize the individual. It is important to note that only a few species of various seed-bearing plants trigger allergic reactions. The possible side effects of pollen can range from minor irritation to shock and even death.
A side effect of pollen injections for treatment or testing is swelling in the site. Minimal swelling and redness at the injection site is quite common and not an issue to worry about unless it persists for more than 24 hours or more than 4-5 centimeters in diameter.
In case the swelling and redness is large in size, it can cause discomfort and must be managed with the application of a cool compress and antihistamines. The swelling functions as a warning to reduce the dosage before the reaction becomes dangerous. Take note that the dosage should be reduced to a lower amount that will not trigger a reaction for the next 2-3 hours before a slight increase in the dosage is attempted again.
The usual side effect of inhaling pollen is sneezing. The sneezing can be quickly followed by runny nose, scratchy throat and itchy eyes. Sneezing along with nasal and throat irritations are caused by the production of histamine which dilates the small blood vessels in the nose, thus triggering the swelling and congestion of the nasal passages.
Even though many individuals react to pollen ingestion by producing mucous around the offending particles and transporting them down the throat to be swallowed up or coughed out, a small percentage of individuals are prone to the allergy and react with nasal congestion, sneezing episodes and irritation of the throat and eyes.
For those who are highly sensitive to the plant pollen in the air and react with seasonal allergy symptoms, the condition can become chronic and eventually develop into asthma. Irritation of the eyes and throat as well as sneezing can progress into a serious respiratory condition with wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing.
The bronchial passages constrict along with excessive production of mucus and the bronchial tubes are irritated until infected. Immediate medical care is required when symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing develops.
The most serious side effect of pollen injection is a systemic reaction called as anaphylactic shock. It is important to note that immunotherapy and allergy skin tests can cause closure of the breathing passages, thus requiring immediate response using epinephrine injections given intramuscularly to counteract the reaction.
This life-threatening reaction typically occurs within minutes after the administration of an injection using allergenic extracts. With this in mind, the injections should only be given in the doctor’s clinic or healthcare facility where emergency devices are readily available.