Pollen allergy is also known as “hay fever” or “allergic fever”. It is the body reacting to allergens found in different plants – eg grass pollen and seed flour from birch and other trees. Runny nose, itchy eyes and asthmatic disorders are typical reactions. Medicines with antihistamines usually relieve the symptoms.
APPOTEK can advise you on treatment and refer you to a specialist where necessary.
Allergies usually appear at school age. Pollen allergies give symptoms reminiscent of colds – itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, tiredness and hunger. Sometimes your allergy can cause itching and a sore throat. Fever and a thick cough, however, are not typical allergy symptoms, but more closely associated with colds and infections.
A pollen allergy can make you tired and hungry, therefore it can be more difficult to cope with work, school and physical activity when an allergy is at its peak. At high pollen levels, you can reduce symptoms by staying indoors.
Symptoms vary depending how much pollen is in the air and how strong your allergies are. People who have asthma often get worse from pollen. Others may have asthma during the pollen season.
- itchy and runny eyes
- sneezing and runny nose
- itching in the throat
- respiratory disorders
Two out of three pollen allergy sufferers are also vulnerable to so-called cross allergy – if you are allergic to a certain substance (allergens) you may have an allergic reaction to other substances that contain similar allergens. If you are allergic to birch pollen, you can for example react to nuts or apples that can cause itching or swelling of the lips, mouth and throat.
Allergy is caused by the body’s immune system reacting to certain substances.
In the case of pollen allergy, the body’s immune system responds to allergens present in the air during the pollen season. Then antibodies are formed that settle on the mucous membranes of the nose, trachea and eyes, causing an allergic reaction. Pollen allergy can in turn cause asthmatic disorders and there is a clear link between pollen allergy and atopic eczema.
When exactly problems develop depends where you live and what kind of pollen you are allergic to. Some are hypersensitive to certain pollens for a limited time, others are affected during much of the year.
Spores (for example in ferns, moss and fungi) can also cause allergic reactions.
Prevention and Protection
Avoiding allergens will help prevent symptoms.
In pharmacies there are non-prescription medicines with antihistamine that can relieve the symptoms of pollen allergy.
Some medicines you need to start taking well in advance, before the pollen season has started and before the mucous membrane has become too irritated.
Weather forecasts can provide estimates of how much pollen is in the air from day to day. When the pollen count is particularly high, you may feel better by staying indoors and reducing exposure.
Here’s how to reduce symptoms:
- leave windows and doors closed during the day
- ventilate at night or early morning when pollen levels are lower
- avoid close contact with pets
- don’t get close to plants and flowers with pollen
- change clothes when you have been out and shower before you sleep.
If you are unsure of what is causing your allergy, you can contact your doctor for a full investigation. You will likely be required to do a test with a focus on pollen allergy. Prescription-free antihistamine tablets usually help against airborne allergens. Nasal spray and eye drops can also relieve symptoms. In addition, there are prescription drugs containing cortisone that can help in more severe cases.
For severe pollen allergy, you can receive a treatment in the form of an ‘allergy vaccination’, which in medical speak is called allergen immunotherapy or hyposensitization.
When to consult a doctor
If over the counter treatments don’t help, you should consult your doctor for better relief from your complaints. If you have respiratory problems or a cough, you should also seek care.
Seek urgent medical attention in case of severe respiratory distress or if you suddenly feel swell in the face, mouth or throat.
How APPOTEK can help
You can contact us at APPOTEK for help with pollen allergies. A nurse or physician will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms, after which you will either be prescribed treatment or referred for further examination. If your child has a problem, he or she should always see a doctor.