Health, 27.04.2020

Even non-allergic people are suffering:

Pollen allergy sufferers have been particularly plagued for weeks. Due to the long fair weather period, the pollen level in the air is very high. According to the latest pollen report from Meteo Switzerland, there are high load values on both sides of the Alps. In particular, birch, oak and beech pollen, and also plane and sycamore tree pollen in the cities, are present in large quantities.

"Many people have very severe complaints at the moment," says Gerhard Müllner, Chief Physician for Allergology at Lucerne Cantonal Hospital (Luks). Birch pollen and flowering grasses in particular are causing massive discomfort for allergy sufferers. According to him, the visible yellow pollen that is currently lying on everything like a film, however, usually originates from pine trees, and rarely triggers allergic reactions.

Uncertainty among pollen allergy sufferers
Despite the high pollen levels, the allergology at the Luks has not currently seen very many patients asking for consultations. "We are normally overrun in such persistently beautiful weather. Many people are avoiding visiting us, however, due to concerns about the corona virus. But we do receive a lot of telephone and written enquiries," says Müllner. The chief allergist notes a certain degree of uncertainty in pollen allergy sufferers due to the corona virus. "Pollen allergy sufferers do not have an increased risk. The medications for pollen allergies are effective, and do not increase susceptibility to Covid-19 infection," he stresses. This also applies to seasonal asthma caused by pollen.

According to Müllner, the risk of a pollen-related asthma attack is highest just before rain and within the first half-hour of a rain shower. "The pollen bursts in the rain, and the concentration of the allergens is then particularly high in the air. They can then easily get into the peripheral airways and trigger an asthma attack," he says. Then it's time to go inside quickly, close the windows and inhale.

When the flowering landscape becomes a plague: pollen allergy sufferers suffer particularly at the moment.

Müllner advises pollen-stricken people to seek a symptom-oriented treatment. "If you have severe asthma problems, you must inhale." Drugs such as local steroids, for example nasal sprays, as well as antihistamines and eye drops without cortisone, will alleviate severe allergic complaints and can be used without any worries. As a long-term solution, desensitization should then be considered to treat the causes.

More aggressive pollens irritate the mucous membranes
According to Müllner, patients who are aware of their pollen allergy generally know the typical symptoms. The current high pollen levels are also affecting non-allergic people, however. Some pollens have become more aggressive in recent years and can also unspecifically irritate the mucous membranes. says Müllner:

"That's why people with classic allergic symptoms are coming to us who do not normally have allergic reactions, and for whom no specific allergy can be diagnosed."

But how can allergic reactions be distinguished from Covid-19 symptoms? According to Müllner, a flowing, itchy nose with clear secretion, itchy, reddened, weeping eyes and frequent sneezing are the symptoms of a pollen allergy. Coughing can also be an expression of asthma bronchial if the pollen allergy moves one level lower. Allergy sufferers who do not have a fever and have not been in contact with people with corona infections do not normally need to worry.

Medicines for allergies are bestsellers
"Many people are currently heavily affected by pollen allergy," says Doris Vollenweider, health coach at Dr. Schmid's See Apotheke in Lucerne. This can be seen from the medication being sold: The bestsellers are currently medicines for pollen allergies from classic and complementary medicine. "Despite the current situation, our customers still come to the pharmacy. We are there for all our customers, and continue to advise them individually," says Vollenweider. Telephone consultations are also possible, and home delivery is possible for at-risk patients. Allergy checks can be carried out on request – with the necessary protective measures.

Willy Meyer, owner of the Toppharm Apotheke Meyer in Sursee, also confirm that many allergy sufferers currently suffer more than normal from the current pollen levels. "The pollen started very early this year, due to the mild winter."

The situation could now improve a little for allergy sufferers, as there will be frequent local rain showers in the coming days. Rain can reduce the pollen concentration in the air.

The golden rules for pollen allergy

1. Do not dry laundry outdoors.

2. Adapt your leisure activities to the pollen count, e.g. indoor and water sports instead of jogging and cycling.

3. When pollen levels in the air are high, and during fine, windy weather, it is advisable to only stay in the fresh air for a short time and to wear sunglasses.

4. Wash your hair the evening to ensure that as little pollen as possible gets into your eyes and your bed, and thereby disturbs your sleep.

5. Rinse your nose with saltwater spray or saline in the morning and evening.

6. Check the daily pollen bulletins.

7. During the pollen season, windows should only be briefly opened wide to air rooms. Fit pollen screens to the windows.

8. Mow your lawn regularly to prevent grass pollen arising

9. Daily vacuuming. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or a certified filterless model.

10. Clean carpets and furniture regularly.

11. Take off the clothes you have been wearing before entering the bedroom

12. Wear a pollen filter for the nose, and fit a pollen filter to the air conditioning / ventilation system.

13. Keep the windows closed when driving, and fit pollen filters in your car and keep them well maintained.

14. Consider the prevailing pollen count when choosing a holiday destination. Preferably plan holidays in the mountains or by the sea.

15. Avoid eating foods to which you have a pollen-associated cross-reactions