One joy, the other suffering: for most, the prince is associated with joyous spring feelings. For hay fever sufferers, on the other hand, the time of sneezing, nasal commotion and reddened eyes begins. In Germany, about one in six is affected - with an upward trend! The cause of the hay fever attacks are pollen from trees, shrubs, grasses and grain. They enter the body via the respiratory tract and trigger an allergic reaction in hypersensitive people.
Pollen fly earlier and earlier
At mild temperatures, the first pollen already fly in winter - the season for pollen allergy begins with hazelnut and alder already between February and March. Experts are worried about the trend that pollen count starts a little earlier each year. The increasingly polluted breathing air, which makes us especially in the summer, also contributes to the increasing number of hay fever plagues.
Typical symptoms of hay fever
Not everyone affected is allergic to any type of pollen. Therefore, the symptoms occur at different times - depending on when the plant in question flowers and scatters its pollen. Some people with allergies are plagued with allergic rhinitis almost all year round. First symptoms are itchy and red eyes and a tingling sensation in the nose. Then the mucous membranes swell and it comes to tears, sneezing attacks and stuffy nose. Here are the symptoms at a glance:
- Fluent cold with very strong aqueous fluid formation
- Stuffy nose through the swollen mucosa
- Violent, frequent sneezing attacks, itching
- On the eye: redness, itching, burning, photosensitivity
- Tearing, headache, tiredness, fatigue, irritability
These are the rather harmless symptoms of a pollen allergy. Those with severe allergic reactions or who have hay fever for a long time may develop other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, bronchial asthma, gastrointestinal disturbances, migraine, or eczema. Allergy sufferers also often complain of sleep disorders, concentration problems and depression.
Diagnosis of hay fever
The symptoms are so typical that the suspected diagnosis is usually fast. Indications of which pollen causes the allergic symptoms, indicates the season, when the hay fever occurs:
- First, hazel and alder pollen fly, sometimes in winter. In April and May it is mainly poplar, willow, birch, oak and beech.
- Rye pollen and other cereal pollen as well as most grasses on pastures and meadows begin to fly in late May to June.
- In July and August, the pollen is blown away by herbs such as stinging nettle, mugwort and plantain. Around the same time, the spores of the molds Alternaria and Cladosporium are also found in the air. They need a very high humidity to form their spores. They are therefore really active on cool and wet late summer evenings.
To diagnose a pollen allergy, skin tests are performed in which pollen extracts are scratched on the skin. Blood tests (RAST test) complete the diagnosis.
A misfortune is unfortunately rarely alone in allergies. People who suffer from a pollen allergy often also have an allergic reaction to certain foods. One speaks of cross-allergies. Birch pollen allergy sufferers feel tingling and swelling in the mouth and throat, for example, when biting into the fresh apple. These pollen-associated food allergies are among the most common food allergies:
- Birch, alder, hazel: plum, apricot, cherry, peach, apple, pear, kiwi, lychee, avocado, hazelnut, almond, carrot, celery, tomato, potato, pepper, mustard, caraway, coriander
- Grasses: cereal flours, soy, peanut, celery, potato, parsley, thyme
- Herbs, for example mugwort, chamomile, plantain: celery, fennel, carrots, anise, curry, caraway, coriander, parsley, dill, pepper, nutmeg and hazelnut
- Natural latex: passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, bananas, ficus benjamini
Therapy of hay fever
Consistent treatment of pollen allergy is important because allergic asthma can develop from hay fever. The doctor will also advise you on which treatment options are suitable for you. So it is important to treat your pollen allergy consistently, so that a hay fever is not an allergic asthma!
If you are suspected of having an allergy or if you have severe symptoms such as hives or difficulty breathing, you should consult your doctor. He advises you on treatments for hay fever, can do an allergy test, and prescribe you possibly stronger-acting anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory tablets, nasal sprays or eye drops, for example, with cortisone.
Medications that relieve the symptoms
The following medications can relieve the symptoms of hay fever:
- For prevention and treatment, calcium tablets and nasal spray or eye drops containing, for example, cromoglycic acid are used.
- If the nasal mucosa swelled, you can use decongestant nose drops at short notice.
- For reddened eyes, eye drops for conjunctivitis can help in the short term.
- For severe, acute complaints, antiallergic tablets or drops - so-called antihistamines - help.
- There are also homeopathic remedies for prevention and treatment.
- Do not neglect nasal care: It is particularly important to keep the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract moist, because they represent a decisive protection against viruses and bacteria.
Cause therapy - hyposensitization
The only therapy that tries to completely eliminate the allergy is the hyposensitization (so-called "allergy vaccine"). In this case, the person affected the allergen is injected in slowly increasing dosage to desensitize him, that is, to make him insensitive to the allergen. The immune system then usually reacts with a change, so that allergens, which have previously triggered a pathogenic defense reaction, are tolerated again.
Incidentally, many siblings reduce the risk of children suffering from hay fever. According to experts, this is due to the fact that it is usually unhygienic in the full nursery. Through the constant exchange of germs and allergens, the child's immune system is trained and conversely, too much hygiene promotes the occurrence of allergies.
10 tips against hay fever
The following tips will make life easier for you as a pollen allergy sufferer, avoiding the triggers as much as possible:
- In "your" pollen season, reduce outdoor living to a minimum and avoid open spaces (fewer pollen fly in the forest).
- Ventilate only briefly, preferably at night or during or after the rain; it was a real shiver, wait half an hour.
- Keep windows closed in the house and in the car; If necessary, install room air filter and for your car pollen filter.
- When driving, turn off the ventilation and close the window.
- Wash your hair every day so that the pollen does not penetrate the nose and eyes at night.
- Do not undress and change in the bedroom; often wet the bedrooms.
- Suitable vacation spots are the high mountains or the sea.
- Hypoallergenic nasal sprays, eye drops or tablets relieve the symptoms and help you to get through the hay fever.
- An adequate supply of the trace element zinc can alleviate the symptoms of hay fever in many cases.
- Pollen schedule from the pharmacy and pollen forecast by phone or on the Internet tell you when your pollen fly.
You can also get up to date on the bioweather on a daily basis.
Diet for hay fever
In addition, you should eat plenty of fresh fruit with vitamin C, which binds the itch-inducing messenger histamine. Bananas, sunflower seeds and flaxseed reduce the production of histamine. To help with this inflammatory reaction, plantain helps to make tea 3 times a day (pour in 1 teaspoon of 200 ml of cold water, infuse for 30 minutes and strain). Cedar oil should have an anti-allergic effect - mix 1 drop daily with a little sugar and let it slowly melt in the mouth. In the pharmacy you will receive ready-made preparations from butterbur, which should also mitigate the allergic reactions.
For severe nose complaints, regular nasal irrigation helps with saline solution (for example, with a so-called nasal douche), which cleanses the mucous membrane of pollen. The mucous membrane of the nasal inner wall can keep you supple with olive oil.
Frequent infections may be a factor in the development of allergies. If this assumption proves to be correct, especially pollen allergy sufferers should try to avoid colds and other respiratory infections. This includes a good training of the immune system, for example through sports, regular Kneipp treatments and a balanced diet.