Why does pollen affect people differently?

Hay fever: triggers and treatment - everything you need to know about allergic rhinitis

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From: Laura Knops

Numerous pollen can trigger hay fever (symbol picture). © Angelika Warmuth / dpa

Do you suffer from colds and breathing difficulties in spring and summer? The reason for this could be a pollen allergy. Find out everything about the causes, triggers, symptoms and treatment options for hay fever.

  • Not just at Adult, also at Children is hay fever is widespread.
  • Especially in the spring Suffer Pollen allergy sufferers having a cold, red eyes and the urge to sneeze.
  • With a Allergy test it is possible to determine which pollen those affected are allergic to.

Berlin - If spring is just around the corner, it is a reason to be happy for many people. For Allergy sufferers However, this time is not fun - if the Pollen fly again, they suffer from hay fever. The nose is runny, the eyes itchy and repeatedly severe sneezing attacks - hay fever is one of the most common Allergies in Germany, about 25 percent of the Adult are affected in this country.

Hay fever: This is what causes allergic rhinitis

hay fever, also pollen allergy or called pollinosis, is caused by flying pollen. If the pollen swirls through the air, this leads to a sensitive overreaction in some people. Especially in spring and summer (April to August) the Pollen life difficult for many people. But also stay in the winter months (February to March) Allergy sufferers not spared.

At a allergythe body is hypersensitive to certain allergens in the environment. These Allergens are located in Pollen of grasses, trees, shrubs, herbs and grain. Get the Pollen on the mucous membranes in the nose, mouth and throat, it triggers a violent reaction in allergy sufferers Immune system out.

Hay fever: how does a pollen allergy develop?

The body encounters this for the first time Allergen, do not normally occur yet Symptoms on. It only reacts when there is renewed contact immune system sensitive to allergy sufferers. The reason for this is that the body that is in the Pollen the proteins it contains as dangerous. This leads to a whole chain of reactions: First of all, that sets in immune system Antibodies, immunoglobulins (IgE antibodies), free.

These bind to so-called mast cells, which the next time they come into contact with the Allergen produce various tissue hormones to fight the "invaders". Among these hormones is also the messenger substance histaminewho is responsible for the typical Symptoms one allergicreaction.

Allergic rhinitis: genes also play a role

Often one occurs pollen allergy at an early age - in many cases she already joins in Toddlers or Adolescents noticeable. According to the allergy information service of the Helmholtz Center Munich, of which Kerstin Günther has been chairman since 2019, genetic predisposition plays a major role in the development of an allergy. This is how children of Allergy sufferers with a higher probability hay fever compared to Children without genetic predisposition.

One is triggered pollen allergy mostly through complicated interactions between environment and Genes. To the Risk factors include environmental factors such as high levels of air pollution and cigarette smoke. Researchers also suspect that high Hygiene standards are responsible for the fact that more and more people suffer from allergies. The reason for this seems to be that the immune system is inadequate with the Allergens comes into contact and is therefore not trained enough.

Further Risk factors are:

  • Lifestyle: An unhealthy one nutrition can significantly increase the risk of developing an allergy. Accordingly, there is not only a high consumption of fatty foods, but also more persistent stress with the emergence of a allergy in connection.
  • Breastfeeding: Children who have not been breastfed have an increased allergy-risk. Doctors therefore recommend baby breastfeeding for at least 4 months.

Hay fever: these are the symptoms

Everyone Allergy sufferers reacts differently to pollen - how severe the symptoms are depends largely on the Pollen concentrationand the weather. So provide wind and dry climate for that Pollen can spread widely. If it rains, the pollen can hardly fly around - so the time after the rain is usually more pleasant for the patient. For example, the shifts over the yearsTime of blooming of a particular plantalways further towards the beginning of the year, that says a lot about themChanges in climate*.

In contrast to one House dust allergy, in which those affected are impaired all year round, the symptoms join hay fever only seasonally open. Allergy sufferers suffer especially in spring and summer having a severe runny nose, sneezing attacks and often feel limp and tired.

Typical Symptomsat hay fever are:

  • Runny nose, runny nose and runny nose
  • Frequent urge to sneeze and sneezing attacks
  • Watery, itchy and sore eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Burning and itching in the mouth, throat and throat
  • Throat irritation
  • Skin reactions such as swelling, eczema and edema

Further complaints at hay fever are:

  • a headache
  • fatigue
  • Bad sleep
  • Loss of appetite

Hay fever: further consequences possible

Fatigue, lack of attention and sneezing attacks - also have in everyday life Pollen allergy sufferers often struggling with the allergic complaints. Kick the Symptoms for example while driving, this can be dangerous. Often the symptoms impair concentration and absorption capacity. Therefore, sufferers who only have mild symptoms should also have the allergy absolutely get treated.

Remains that pollen allergy If left untreated for a long time, this can lead to chronic secondary diseases. Around every third to fourth hay fever patient develops one in the course of their life allergicasthma. Among the first signs of the chronic illness include a mild, dry cough and swelling of the nasal mucous membranes. These Symptoms are triggered by hypersensitivity of the bronchi and sinuses.

Hay fever: Cross-reactions are also possible

Some people develop what is called a Cross reaction, where the allergy on too food expands. The complaints are not just faced Pollen on, but also when eating raw Food. The is triggered allergicreaction of the proteins contained in food. The body classifies these as dangerous, just like the pollen. There is an allergic overreaction of the Immune system.

Frequent Cross reactions occur with allergies to early bloomers such as birch, alder and hazel. In this case, those affected often react nuts(Walnuts, peanuts and hazelnuts) and various Types of fruit with allergic symptoms. Patients who suffer from a grass allergy also often develop it Symptoms after eating legumes or cereal flour.

Hay fever: this is how the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is established

Anyone under typical Symptoms like sneezing attacks, red eyes and runny nose suffers should one doctor to seek out. Because in addition to trees, grasses, bushes and herbs you can also Animal hair, Moldsand House dust mitescause similar complaints. But a cold can also be behind the symptoms. If the symptoms persist for a long time or keep recurring, that speaks for one pollen allergy.

A Specialist For Allergology can use various tests to rule out other causes and provide an accurate one diagnosisput. goal of Allergy tests is to find out what types of pollen you are allergic to. This includes:

  • Skin test or prick test: In this test, the doctor wears that Allergen directly on the skin. In the next step, he slightly scratches the area so that it is under the skin got. If wheals or a rash develop, this is a sign of an allergy.
  • Blood test: When examining the Blood the doctor can determine if the body is already special antibody against the allergens developed.
  • Provocation test: Who has no suspicion of which Pollen if he is allergic, he can do a provocation test. In this test, the doctor applies the possible allergens directly to the mucous membranes. The contact provokes an allergic reaction. With a nasal Provocation test the doctor puts the allergen on the nasal mucosa. If swelling, sneezing and runny nose occur as a result, that speaks for one allergy.

Treating Hay Fever - How To Do It Right

Who under hay fever suffers, should try allergenicPollen to avoid. However, since that is mainly in the Spring- and Summer months is almost impossible, sufferers can rely on various means and Medication To fall back on. Obtain in pharmacies and from a doctor Allergy sufferers Products based on various active ingredients that Symptoms alleviate or suppress as much as possible.

So far can hay fever not to be cured, only that Symptoms can be treated. These Medication against acute complaints can help:

  • Antihistamines: The active ingredient is in Tablet or Spray form available. The so-called histamine blockers prevent a reaction of the messenger substance histamine - this is how the typical ones can Symptoms do not arise.
  • Cortisone:Nasal spraysand Tablets with cortisone suppress inflammation triggered by the allergy, in the body. Those affected should take the active ingredient at an early stage, as it only begins to work after a while.
  • To the other drugs include chromones (mast cell stabilizers), leukotriene receptor antagonists and nasal decongestant drops and sprays.

Kick the Symptoms for several years or suffer from persistent poor sleep, this can seriously affect the quality of life. In this case, the doctor usually advises one Desensitization, also called specific immunotherapy (SIT) or desensitization. At this therapy the specialist injects the allergen once a week for at least three years. The aim of treatment is to target the immune system Pollen allergens to accustom. A desensitization can also be taken in tablet or drop form, but this is usually not as effective as the therapy in the doctor's office.

Specialists and patients can find all information on the diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis in the “Allergology and Clinical Immunology” guideline from German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI).

Hay fever: when is pollen season?

The following overview shows which Pollen among the most common Allergy triggers belong and when to fly:

plantMain month of pollen count
hazelFebruary
alderMarch
birchApril
beechMay
OakMay
AshMid-April to mid-May
GrassesMid-May to mid-August
mugwortMid-July to the end of August
ambrosiaSeptember

Hay fever: Ever longer pollen season

More and more people around the world suffer from one allergy. Also the spread of hay fever keeps increasing. The reason for this is, among other things, that it is constantly widening Pollen diversity. Globalization and climate change not only change human behavior, nature is also affected. Only a few bloomed a few years ago plants in the winter months, there are now more and more that Allergy sufferers make life hard. A milder climate means that the plants bloom earlier and longer, which also extends the Pollen count. For many people this means a longer one Pollen season.

Another cause is increasing environmental pollution. Pollutants in the air affect the metabolism of plants, making them more Pollen to produce. Also the introduction of new varieties, such as the one from America ambrosia, increase that allergy-potential in the population.

Hay fever: tips for allergy sufferers

Not just with Medication allergy sufferers can prevent the annoying hay fever symptoms. The following tips can help to relieve watery eyes, sneezing attacks and allergic rhinitis:

  • Attach pollen screens to the windows: Especially in spring, a lot of pollen flies around in the air, but pollen screens on the windows can help in order to still be able to ventilate regularly. These keep the pollen out without you having to forego fresh air.
  • Do not change your clothes in the bedroom: When you take off your clothes, the pollen swirls through the air and can thus be distributed in the apartment.
  • Take a vacation in spring and in regions with less pollen count - For allergy sufferers, the sea and the mountains are particularly suitable as holiday destinations.
  • Wash your hair before bed - this prevents the pollen from getting into your bed and causing you problems at night.
  • Avoid outdoor sports - this way you do not expose your body to unnecessarily high concentrations of pollen.
  • Ventilate at low-pollen times - So in the evening or early in the morning, then the pollen cannot get into the apartment.

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This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. Under no circumstances does it replace a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editors are not allowed to answer individual questions about clinical pictures.