Spring has begun and most people are happy about it, but not everyone. Some can hardly wait for the trees to be green again and for the flowers to shoot out of the ground. We have waited five months for the days to get brighter and for the sun to shine longer again.
After all, for many, spring is the most beautiful time of the year. But it also has its pitfalls: For allergy sufferers, the time of suffering begins as soon as the pollen flight of birch pollen, alder, hazel pollen and grass pollen starts.
The classic symptoms
According to medical experts’ estimates, around 20 to 30 million German citizens suffer from allergies. Every fifth German suffers from hay fever. The classic symptoms of a pollen allergy are watery, itchy, reddened, burning and swollen eyes.
In addition, there is acute irritable cough, itching in the nose, mouth or throat area, runny nose and a very runny nose. All in all, not a good time for allergy sufferers. And the symptoms can torture allergy sufferers until the summer.
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Zuberbier from the non-profit European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) therefore advises, “Outdoor activities such as jogging should be done before 8 a.m. in the city, and after 6 p.m. in the countryside, pollen levels are lowest at these times”.
The symptoms of hay fever should not be underestimated. Fatigue and a reduced ability to concentrate and learn can be the consequences. Many also complain of difficult breathing. Often even children get hay fever. The pollen load can also cause conjunctivitis, which is particularly annoying. Itching and burning in the eye is an alarm signal for conjunctivitis, and you should consult your doctor immediately.
In the medical sense, pollen allergy is an allergic inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane caused by plant pollen. Doctors speak of allergic “rhinitis” or “pollinosis”. What few people know is that without appropriate medical treatment the quality of life can be limited by these allergies for many years or even decades. The problem of pollen allergy sufferers is that most complaints are chronic.
Ash pollen, for example, has a very strong allergy potential, as does birch pollen. Beech pollen allergy and oak pollen allergy are among the rare pollen allergies, unlike alder pollen allergy. About 20-30% of all pollen allergy sufferers suffer from the so-called early bloomers. Most of them react allergic to the alder.
The alder has its main flowering period from the beginning of February to April. Therefore the first symptoms usually appear very early. Allergy sufferers must therefore be prepared for an increased exposure to alder pollen. The alder pollen allergy often shows typical hay fever symptoms. Reddened conjunctiva, coughing or irritated respiratory tract, watery and burning eyes, sneezing and itching up to light sensitivity.
Worse, it can even lead to allergic asthma. In this case you should have an allergy test done by your doctor.
The shadow of spring
One of the shadows of spring is the birch pollen allergy. Birch pollen is one of the most aggressive and strongest tree pollen allergens known to us, and it occurs in huge numbers. A single birch tree can produce almost 100 million pollen.
The fine white-yellow powder of the birch tree penetrates everywhere and lies like a film on all surfaces, clothing, hair, the whole body. Scientists assume that up to 25 percent of all pollen allergy sufferers react to birch pollen.
The main flowering time of the birch tree in Central Europe is in April and can last until May or even July. Sunny weather in spring favours the early pollen flight of the birch. The symptoms of birch pollen allergy are swollen eyelids, red conjunctiva and itchy and watery eyes as well as persistent sneezing, swelling of the nasal mucous membranes and a continuous runny nose. Those affected complain of a general feeling of illness, exhaustion and headaches. If you have an allergy to birch pollen, you should definitely consult your doctor, because if left untreated the respiratory tract can be affected, which can even lead to asthma.
Spruce, lime, poplar, hazel and maple
Allergy sufferers are often panicked by the pollen count of spruce. Many are afraid of the yellow dust, but it is harmless. Allergologists have given the all-clear. Allergic reactions can hardly be triggered by spruce pollen.
You don’t have to be afraid of lime pollen allergy either, because the lime tree spreads very little pollen. For allergy sufferers, however, it can still be useful to find out about the flowering period and the pollen count of the lime tree. We can also neglect the maple pollen allergy, as it is a rather rare form of pollen allergy.
The black poplars, trembling poplars and silver poplars are also widespread in Germany and are regarded as early bloomers. The main flowering time of the poplars is in April. Pollen allergy sufferers must expect an increased pollen load until the end of May, as the cotton wool-like bushes fly around for such a long time.
The hazel is also an early bloomer. The highest exposure to hazelnut pollen occurs in March. A rather rare form of pollen allergy is the maple pollen allergy, which can also be triggered by food. (cross allergy)
And another thing, almost all grass species – of which there are about 10,000 species in more than 650 genera – lead to allergies during the flowering period. Sweet grasses in particular should be avoided.
Rye is also an aggressive allergen carrier. As a cultivated plant it is widely spread. High growing grasses should also be avoided. Since you can encounter these grasses almost everywhere, on pastures, meadows, along the roadside and in forest clearings, allergy sufferers are almost nowhere safe.
Conclusion: Hay fever is nothing more than a hypersensitivity reaction of the immune system. The consequences are respiratory diseases, itching, runny nose, sneezing, sinusitis and redness. Unfortunately, many people underestimate hay fever, because if a pollen allergy is not treated, or only insufficiently treated, major problems can occur. An untreated hay fever can lead to a full-blown tree and grass pollen allergy. But we should not let spring spoil the day. Tree, grass and herb pollen only fly in certain seasons.
Every year, this year on 5 May 2020, World Asthma Day takes place. This day was created in 1998 by the “Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA)” because the number of asthma cases is increasing worldwide. However, a good inhaler often helps against asthma attacks and shortness of breath. With these, asthma and also allergy symptoms can be treated and alleviated in a targeted manner.
So, let’s enjoy spring!