Fluctuating pollen count: Turbulent start to the year for allergy sufferers

Fluctuating pollen count: Turbulent start to the year for allergy sufferers

Changing weather causes fluctuating pollen levels
The changeable weather conditions of the past weeks brought turbulent times for allergy sufferers. "The load situation for allergy sufferers is sudden, because the pollen count fluctuates due to the inconsistent temperatures," said the MedUni Vienna. In addition, the pollen is earlier than usual this year in view of the mild winter.

Even the birch, whose pollen is particularly sensitive to people, will release more pollen into the air from the end of March than in the previous year, reports MedUni Vienna. People with pollen allergy should be prepared for this. It should also be considered in the case of supposed cold symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing that instead of a cold, an allergy could also be present. With the latter, therapy should start early "to prevent stressful asthma or the development of further allergies," emphasizes the MedUni Vienna. Allergy experts explained how an allergy can be identified and treated at a press conference of the Austrian Pollen Warning Service at MedUni Vienna together with the information platform IGAV (interest group allergen avoidance).

Extremely multifaceted spring
Referring to the data from the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, MedUni Vienna reports that the current winter was the second warmest in almost 250 years of measurement history. Most recently, the changing cold and warm fronts have had an impact on the pollen season and ensured "an extremely multifaceted spring", explains Katharina Bastl from the Austrian Pollen Warning Service at MedUni Vienna. In theory, alder and hazel flowering would have been possible earlier due to the mild winter, but this was repeatedly slowed down by the onset of cold, the expert explains.

Pollen season significantly extended
The pollen season has basically lengthened due to the spread of purple alder. This blooms "due to its Siberian genes up to two months before its native relatives and therefore causes allergy sufferers problems from mid-December," according to the MedUni Vienna. In view of its kinship with hazel and birch, the purple alder is not uncommon for people with these allergies to experience symptoms so early. "Wherever Purpurerle is widespread, the pollen-free time is reduced to just two months a year," emphasizes Katharina Bastl.

Ash and birch blossom are just around the corner
With the start of the ash blossom, which has already begun to occur at favorable locations, allergy sufferers expect the next stress wave, according to the expert. However, "an explosive start to the season is not to be expected, the weather is still too unstable for that," said Bastl. A somewhat earlier start of the pollen flight is also predicted for the birch. "Depending on the weather of the next week, allergy sufferers can expect the first loads from the middle / end of March," reports MedUni Vienna. The amount of pollen is expected to be significantly above the usual average.

Course of the pollen season still unclear
According to Bastl, the extent of the allergy complaints in the next few weeks will mainly depend on how the season starts and proceeds. "If it gets warmer continuously, the season starts early, but at the same time moderately," explains the expert. However, if the strong temperature fluctuations continue, the pollen flight will start very suddenly or the amount of pollen will jump up again and again during the flight time, although the start will be delayed, but the stresses "will be experienced significantly more than with a slowly rising pollen flight."

Diagnosis is often too late
In the press release from MedUni Vienna, the head of the Austrian Pollen Warning Service, Uwe E. Berger, explains that it often takes too long before a diagnosis is made for hay fever patients. “It takes an average of eight to nine years for allergy sufferers to get a specialist diagnosis and adequate therapy. That is definitely too long, ”said Berger. According to the expert, a closer examination is urgently needed if symptoms such as itchy eyes, a runny or blocked nose and sneezing attacks do not subside after a week and occur at around the same time each year. "In order to make it easier for allergy sufferers to decide to visit a doctor, we have integrated a clinically tested self-test into our app and website," reports the expert. The aim of this service is to shorten the time from the appearance of the first symptoms to a sensible therapy and to prevent the occurrence of asthma diseases.

Do not underestimate the consequences of a pollen allergy
According to the experts, allergies are often underestimated. Many people are not aware of the possible consequences. An allergic inflammation could spread towards the lungs and cause new allergies to develop. As a result, those affected are exposed to their stressful symptoms not only during the pollen flight, but throughout the year. "The earlier an allergy is detected, the sooner it can be adequately treated and the symptoms can be prevented from worsening," warns Erika Jensen-Jarolim from the Institute for Pathophysiology and Allergy Research at MedUni Vienna. The allergen microchip with over 100 allergen molecules is particularly accurate, not very stressful and ideally suited as a screening method for pollen allergies. "However, the test is not possible everywhere, because it requires special knowledge to interpret the comprehensive results," says Jensen-Jarolim.

Three pillars of therapy
If the pollen allergy is diagnosed, treatment follows on the basis of three essential pillars, reports the MedUni Vienna. These are: "Avoid allergy triggers, alleviate symptoms with antiallergic medication and beat the cause of the disease with your own weapons, so to speak - in the case of a pollen allergy with pollen allergens" (Specific Immunotherapy; SIT). The earlier treatment is started, the better the allergy can be treated. Reinhart Jarisch, deputy head of the Floridsdorf Allergy Center (FAZ), explains in the press release from MedUni Vienna regarding the third therapeutic pillar that the disease-causing allergen is administered in the form of syringes, drops or tablets over a period of about three years. The slow increase in the dose creates a habituation effect and the immune system learns to “tolerate the allergy triggers again.” (Fp)

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