Hay fever and what to do about it

Pollinosis (from the Latin ‘pollen’) or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a seasonal disease, caused by an allergic reaction to plant pollen

Pollinosis (from the Latin ‘pollen’) or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a seasonal disease, caused by an allergic reaction to plant pollen.
Spring has finally arrived, and the shoots will appear, trees and meadow flowers will blossom. It is a good time for most but for some, it heralds the beginning of their allergic reaction, here’s some advice on how to be ready to tackle the problem. I.A.Stoshevsky, Mstislavl

Pollinosis (from the Latin ‘pollen’) or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a seasonal disease, caused by an allergic reaction to plant pollen. The smaller the pollen is, the more insidious it appears to be. The greatest danger for hay fever sufferers is pollen from elm, birch, maple, oak, alder, ash, hazel and acacia. Sometimes allergies can even appear at the first signs of spring, a week before flowering, as the wind brings the pollen from areas farther south. The allergic reactions that begin in May and June are mistakenly thought to be caused by poplar wool, but due to its size, this cannot get into the respiratory airways and is not the allergen at fault. It is possible that during this period, people are allergic to the pollen from other plants whose flowering coincides with the emergence of the poplar wool.

In the hay fever period, the overwhelming majority of patients show symptoms of polyvalent allergy. This means that their allergic reactions can be not only to pollen, but also to other fruit and plants. Those who react to birch pollen can have a cross-reaction to carrots, hazelnuts, apples and peaches, during the period from April to the end of May. Reactions to wormwood can be linked to an allergy to citrus plants, honey and sunflower seeds.

The symptoms of hay fever appear regularly at the same time each year. Most often they include rhinitis, a reddening of the eyes (conjunctivitis), dermatitis (appearance of skin rash, itching) and also tiredness, irritability, a tickling feeling in the throat and a cough. Occasionally the sufferer’s temperature may rise slightly. It is interesting that up to 20 percent of the population suffering from this allergy are unaware of it, often viewing their symptoms as a common cold. But, despite the similarity of the symptoms, there is a difference. With allergies, the temperature usually does not rise (or only slightly), there is frequent multiple sneezing, nasal discharges are watery and transparent, and these do not change in the course of the ‘illness’ unlike a cold. If the cause is an allergy, people will have itching or irritation in the ears, nose, throat and mouth. This irritation and rhinitis will become stronger in windy and dry weather, while during rainy periods, symptoms should lessen. The symptoms of cold usually remain for no more than a week, an allergic reaction however, can affect the patient for a long time, sometimes even for the entire year. With allergies, people usually feel better in the evening rather than the morning, and symptoms are fewer inside rather than out of doors.

At the onset of symptoms, it is advisable to consult a doctor. It is easy for an expert to diagnose pollinosis, having considered the symptoms and the plants in pollination at the time time. In addition, skin allergy and blood tests can be taken.

The groups at risk of being allergic to pollen includes those:


• with a hereditary deficiency of the secretion Ig A;

• working and living in poor ecological conditions;

• having other allergic diseases (for example bronchial asthma);

• who have had their tonsils removed;

• with weak immunity and with low resistance to stress.

During the worst period of symptoms some precautions are necessary:


• taking a daily antihistamine (antiallergic) on doctor’s orders;

• taking a shower;

• closing windows and doors in the afternoons;

• refrain from walks in windy weather;

• at night, or after rain, air the room (when the concentration of pollen is at its lowest);

• holiday near lakes and places where pollen is at low levels.

During periods of remission the rules are simple: improve the body’s immunity with sport, a balanced diet, conditioning to the cold and have an annual check up from an allergist.

By Tatiana Zhukova, doctor of higher category, D.M. Ph.D.
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