Sunday 1 March 2015

Silver Birch Allergy - written by a sufferer!

Hello Friends,

I've got a blog, which I usually use to share my creative side.  I teach card making, scrap booking and I also offer one to one classes on the Silhouette Cameo.  I hold regular events and sell Stampin' Up products.

Today though, I felt I wanted to share with you my story, all about how much my health has suffered over the last few years, with what turned out to be my Silver Birch allergy worsening year by year.

I moved into this home in December 1987, we were only meant to be here for two or three years.   I was very reluctant to purchase the house because of the council trees, right outside.  I worried because I remembered having to move out of my childhood home for a few months whilst our home was being under pinned because the of damage done by a huge Oak tree, right outside of our home!  My husband, at the time, reassured me that the trees were only small and we were only going to be there for a short time, so I wasn't to worry.

Well, the move was never to be!  Long story........but I'm still here now.  I love this home, it's perfect for us, it has space, we have nice people around us and we like the location.  We can't ever imagine moving from here now.

The drawback to this place was the fact that we had two, ever growing, trees right in front of us.  They blocked our light all year, the front of our home was very dark even in the summer because the leaves were out in full!  We compensated, all our internal front rooms are painted white! Not only that, but the autumn was horrible too, because of the usual direction of the wind.  We and our neighbours suffered dreadfully with firstly the seeds, oh those seeds, millions and millions all over our homes and cars and then the leaves!

I soon worked out that those trees were my enemy from the beginning of March until the end of November.

March/April - rotten hayfever, May/June/July/August - my skin was "on fire" with huge allergy swellings all over, but mostly on my face, Sept/Oct/early Nov - really bad skin, swollen hands (which I could hardly use) and a very painful and swollen face, then a break!  The break seemed to happen almost overnight.  It happens about the second week into November.  Suddenly I found myself much better, less tired, my skin "normal", you wouldn't believe it!

Each year my symptoms seemed to get worse.  I begged for allergy tests at the doctors but they wouldn't fund them, until they nearly killed me by giving me penicillin!  I'd told them I was allergic, I wasn't sure how allergic, as all I can remember was that I wasn't allowed it from my childhood days.  So when I was in hospital, for something else, someone slipped up and I was in trouble and had a major allergic reaction and from that they gave in and let me have allergy tests!

So, it turns out I have Pollen Food Allergy, which is associated with Silver Birch Pollen.  I've always known that I was allergic to some foods, some of which were much worse than others.  But over the last few years, the foods I used to be able to eat are now very dangerous to for me to eat.  It didn't take the doctors long to work out that my problems were getting worse year on year because of my constant exposure to Silver Birch pollen, due to the two huge trees on my door step.

My own G.P. spent time researching my skin symptoms last year, as they were the worse they'd ever been and fortunately she found a link to a paper written about the chemicals released by the leaves of the tree.  Apparently the leaves give off a chemical which deters all the aphids, but this chemical is, sometimes, extremely harmful to the skin of someone suffering from Silver Birch/Pollen food allergy.

Now that would be me then!!!  I have always had eczema, but it used to got better in the summer, I used to love the summer, no central heating to dry me out and having fresh air on my skin always felt great, but over the last 3 or 4 years my skin got worse and now we know why.  My skin had been exposed constantly to that chemical each time I walked outside of my home and I think it's common knowledge these days that if you are constantly exposed to the allergen, then allergies can get very dangerous.

So.....I've been fighting with the council for years, firstly because the trees blocked our light, made a huge mess, worried me to death about what their roots were doing to our home but, my fight is over, the trees are NO MORE!!! Whoop whoop!

My doctor wrote to the council last year explaining her findings.  Nothing seemed to be happening and with March just a few days away, I called the council on Wednesday to enquire what was happening and on Friday, without notification, three council workers came to fell those trees, phew!!!

I'm sure this won't be the end to my problems.  Trees are all over, we even have another Silver Birch tree down the road, but at least, I ought to be able to go out of my front door in the summer without being hit by the chemical being released by those two trees, that were right there!  And, as for the one down the road, well, I'll be crossing the road and walking on the other side!

Here are some photos of before and after...

Seeds got everywhere, our cars, our homes, our hair and everyone of those that touched me, felt like I'd touched a peanut!

Carrier bags full of seeds in the autumn, if I didn't wear gloves to sweep I wouldn't be able to use my hands due to the allergic swellings for days!

Our home in darkness all summer and all those leaves giving off chemicals that attack my skin!

They're gone, but not forgotten!

I hope my story helps anyone with Silver Birch/Pollen Food allergy.  We need to get these trees away from populated areas, they are not good for us ;)!

Carole x


  1. I first noticed hay fever last year from late February through to June I had a runny nose and streaming eyes. I have a Silver Birch outside my office window
    It is that close it actually touches the glass. 3 days ago I thought I was coming down with another cold.
    Haven't long had the nasty one that's been doing the rounds.
    But I am sneezing and my eyes are streaming again.
    Obviously Silver Birch allergy
    please can you advise the best antihistamine to take. last year they seemed pretty ineffective no matter what I bought.

  2. Dear Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear that you are suffering. The only antihistamine that worked for me was Piriton, they make you sleepy, but they helped with the type of symptoms you have. Nothing at all could help my skin though, which is why they had to go. C x

  3. Did you suffer from lost voice, wheezy chest etc. My son has come down with symptoms like this and we have a silver Birch in front of the house.

  4. Hi James, I do suffer with asthma and have done so since I was a child. To be honest my asthma does seem to be very well controlled at the moment, which could be due to the trees not being there now ;)! And I do remember, now you ask, I did lose my voice occasionally, but that seems fine too! I would research pollen food allergy and Silver Birch and get your son tested. The longer they leave it, the worse things will become (in my opinion)! I can't even touch raw vegetables and fruit now days and it wasn't like that a few years ago! Good luck. C x

  5. Hi Carole. I am from oxfordshire too and have the same allergy - as does my friend (Also from Oxfordshire!) I'm so glad to hear that cutting down the trees has helped with your allergy. could I ask - which allergy specialist did you go to? I can never get much info from any of mine and it's useful to know what the council will cut these down if necessary. thankyou for sharing your experience.