Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Sometimes there is still snow in February, but this year especially the allergy to elspollen is annoying in many places – "rarely observed levels". According to experts, the birch bloom will not last long. What causes the more intense pollen?
Tablets, nasal spray, eye drops and handkerchiefs: for many people with a pollen allergy, February feels like April or May this year. Two-digit temperatures, partly powerful sun and hardly any rain – even before the meteorological start of spring on 1 March, the concentration of bulbs in some places in Germany has risen to unusually high levels.
Last week in Berlin, the highest number of alder pollen in the air measured since 1985 was measured in one day, according to meteorologist Thomas Dümmel of the FU Berlin. The previous record of 2017, which was already extreme, was therefore clearly exceeded.
Seasonal peaks have already been achieved
The German Pollen Information Service Foundation recently reported in a prediction of "rarely observed levels" in the concentration of pollen in the North and West German lowlands. The seasonal peak values have already been reached there. The reason was assumed that the kittens ripened almost simultaneously in view of feathery conditions and the pollen subsequently distributed optimally.
"For people with allergies it was not the dream winter", summarizes the head of the Allergy Center in Berlin Charité, Torsten Zuberbier, in view of the largely mild weather in most of Germany's regions. "Hazel pollen allergies were plagued at Christmas, except perhaps in the high mountains." The trend that has been observed for 20 years in the direction of ever-shorter pollen-free times in winter continues to increase, emphasizes Zuberbier. The intensity of pollen has increased. "It feels like climate change has arrived here, plants love this weather." The trees used "warm periods" for reproduction.
Started earlier than normal
About hazel and alder, which is expected to fade in the near future, follows the allergic terrible birch: "You can already count on the fact that the birch will soon bloom with full force," says Zuberbier. He expects a beginning to bloom from one to two weeks earlier than usual, possibly early March. Dümmel does not expect a start before mid-March, at the end of March – on condition that there is no longer a cold spell. Birches are considerably more dusting particles than other trees.
Allergic people do not have to be surprised if they notice reactions even before flowering starts: "Even if no pollen is measured in the air, allergens can be present at the trees," says Zuberbier. The substances to which allergy sufferers react are the smallest pieces of protein in the pollen grain that is invisible to the human eye. "These particles can also secrete before the onset of flowering and be continued with the air," said the scientist. Even without daily gardening you can then come into contact with allergens. "If the tree is in front of the window, that's enough."
Hay fever affects millions of people in Germany
According to the pollen information service, hay fever affects about twelve million people in Germany, according to a study by the Robert Koch Institute, more than a million people are children and adolescents. The RKI considers allergic disorders to be one of the most common health problems in children and adolescents. The incident has recently stabilized at a high level.
Current hygiene is considered as one of the factors that promote the development of allergies. Pollen is actually innocent, the allergic immune system of allergy sufferers still contact the mucous membranes when in contact: weeping, itchy eyes, sneezing and severe colds are possible consequences. The symptoms can also affect the lower respiratory tract in the course of time – especially if they are not treated – in addition to the upper respiratory tract, threatening chronic asthma.
Patients can suppress acute symptoms of hay fever with tablets called antihistamines. Sometimes doctors also prescribe medications with cortisone for inflammatory reactions. Moreover, the so-called hyposensitization is available outside the pollen season, which usually lasts longer. This can lead to improvement of disease symptoms after some time.