The onset of pollen causes hay fever

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Mild winter leads to an early start to the hay fever season

The unusually mild temperatures of this winter have unpleasant consequences for pollen allergy sufferers. Already in November and December, many allergy sufferers showed the first symptoms of hay fever, according to the current report by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB). In view of the spring-like temperatures, hazel pollen had started extremely early, leading to an increased incidence of allergic symptoms. According to the DAAB, the German Weather Service (DWD) is already reporting a slight hazelnut flight "for North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Thuringia's lowlands, Saarland, Palatinate, Nahe and Mosel, Mainfranken."

A medium pollen count can already occur in the Rhine-Main region, the Upper Rhine region and the lower Neckar valley, according to the DWD. In conversation with the "dpa" news agency, Sonja Lämmel from the DAAB in Mönchengladbach recommends that people with pollen allergies should have their medication ready and take it if necessary. "Because you have to take some in the long term so that they work," continues Lämmel. This year, a connection of the allergic complaints with the mild weather can be assumed that the Atlantic deep Christina is currently giving us, which is also responsible for the devastating cold wave in the USA. But it has been possible to state for a long time that "the pollen count starts earlier each year," according to the DAAB statement.

What is the cause of the increased allergic reactions? This raises the question of whether the unusual symptoms currently being observed are triggered by the early flowering plants or whether an extended flowering period of other plants is the cause. The allergic complaints could also be triggered by new types of pollen from trees and shrubs that are increasingly planted or newly spread in Germany, according to the DAAB. According to the experts, cross-reactions among the pollen may also play a role. Last but not least, the question remains open whether "the symptoms are triggered by allergy triggers that are no longer bound in pollen but circulate freely in the outside air and have so far not been proven by measurements."

Allergic complaints such as during the main pollen season "Although the number of pollen is still very small, they trigger as violent reactions in allergy sufferers as during the main pollen season," reports the European Foundation for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) in a separate communication. Professor Dr. med. Karl-Christian Bergmann, an expert at ECARF and head of the German Pollen Information Service Foundation, further explained that hazelnut bushes "according to their natural rhythm, produced more pollen last year, whereas birch trees produced less pollen". Therefore, less hazel pollen is expected for 2014, but birch activity is expected to increase. "The number of alder pollen will be as high as last year," continues Prof. Bergmann. One reason for the particularly strong reactions of allergy sufferers at the beginning of the pollen flight is "weaning the nose off the pollen, since these have not flown for months." However, "even a cold or cold that has survived can make the nose more sensitive."

Pollen allergy sufferers who already suffer from the typical hay fever symptoms should, according to Professor Bergmann, consult an allergist if in doubt. With the help of an antihistamine or possibly a short-term immunotherapy, this can certainly help those affected, according to the ECARF message. In the opinion of the experts, it also makes sense to "get regular information about the pollen count from now on." (Fp)

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