Pollens are small particles, with diameter ranging between 5 and 40 microns, which function in reproduction of grasses, trees and flowers. Clinical findings related with pollens are evident in spring season when said plants flower. Pollens may spread with wind or via insects and flies.
Pollens with highest incidence of allergy include betulacae, hazel, olive, poplar, vernal grass, and sweet annie, barley, wheat, oat and rye pollens.
Tree pollens have potent influence in spring season (January – May). Most commonly found tree pollens in our country are red oak, hazel, olive, lime tree, white willow, elm, some plane tree species, poplar and several pine species.
Meadow pollens (grass pollens) are more common during late spring and summer seasons (May – July). Most common meadow pollens in our country include couch grass, valeriana, rye grass, Bermuda grass and festuca.
Weed pollens are more prevalent during the period ranging between end of summer and autumn (July – October). Weed pollens commonly found in our country are absinth, salsola ruthenica, rumex acetosa, parieltaria officinalis and Chenopodium album.
Pollen load is usually higher in the morning time. People with pollen allergy experience relief in rainy days since pollen load of air decreases, while pollens better spread in hot and sunny days and complaints aggravate.
Allergy may develop based on influences of environmental factors in subjects with genetic predisposition. Presence of other allergic conditions (such as eczema and asthma) and nasal polyps are other risk factors.
Pollen allergy is more prevalent in subjects aged between 5 and 40 years. One in every 5 people may be involved. Number of subjects suffering this condition gradually increases.
Baseline symptoms are seen during childhood and adolescence.
Most common symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal congestion, postnasal drainage, sense of increased pressure in ear, watering eyes and ocular hyperemia as well as itching in soft palate, acoustic canal, eyes and skin and fatigue and insomnia. An allergic rash (also known as “allergic salute”) can be seen on dorsal nose since children often rubs nose using the index finger.
The condition has extremely negative influences on life quality and also, it has adverse effects on business and education life of many people.
Symptoms may relieve with aging, but they may aggravate in pregnancy period.
The first step for protecting against hay fever is identifying the type of pollen leading to the allergic condition. For this purposes, rapid and non-laborious skin tests and sometimes, blood tests can be studied.
The principal of the treatment in allergic diseases is to avoid allergens. However, pollens are allergens found in breathing air of outdoor environment and it is not possible to completely avoid them.
Level of allergens exposed can be reduced using several methods;
- Keep windows of house and vehicles closed,
- Avoid going out in the early morning and at night time, characterized with highest load of pollens, and wear mask, if necessary.
- Change your garment when you arrive home and wash your garments,
- Wash your hair and have bath,
- Avoid drying clothes in air and use tumble dries, if possible,
- Use air conditioners at home and in the car and change pollen filters in short intervals,
- Use house-type air cleaners (air cleaning devices equipped with highly effective filters such as HEPA filter),
- Change bed linens and pillow slips regularly,
- Vacuum clean your carpets twice a week,
- Avoid exposure to irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke, dye smell and perfume
The optimum approach is that allergic subjects move from habitat of relevant allergen plant; however, allergic subject may develop allergy to new pollens even if the concerning subjects moves to another region.
Recently, very effective drugs are used in order to control signs and symptoms of the disease. Those drugs may vary depending on symptoms. For example, anti-allergic drugs and nasal sprays are effective in hay fever, while bronchodilator and therapeutic oral sprays and tablets are used in asthma; anti-allergic creams and drugs are effective in dermatologic lesions. Another treatment method is immunotherapy, which is also known as vaccine therapy. This method is the only curative therapeutic method for allergic diseases. Allergens relevant for the patient are injected at gradually increasing doses or they are sublingually administered in the form of drop. Thus, desensitization of body against relevant allergens is ensured and reaction can be avoided when patient is exposed to relevant allergic substances. Recently, effectiveness of allergy vaccine (allergen immunotherapy) in patient with pollen allergy was proven. However, allergy vaccine is a treatment method associated with risks and it should be strictly administered at hospital settings under supervision of allergy specialist with necessary qualifications.
DO YOU KNOW?
Allergy may occur in some allergic subjects against an allergen included in same family of original pollen. This is called cross reaction. For example, subjects allergic to pollens of birch may possibly be allergic to hazel and redwood pollens. Cross reactions can be observed between pollens and fruits. For example, some people allergic to pollens of birch may also have allergies against apple, pear, kiwi, plum, peach, apricot, carrot(fresh), tomato (fresh), celery, hazel and almond.