Allergies are triggered by many substances
Allergies are triggered by many substances
Allergy sufferers often cannot enjoy spring outside and thus miss this beautiful season.
The sun is most beautiful outside, but we feel most comfortable inside with the windows closed because our noses are running, and our eyes are itchy. Anyone who recognizes themselves in this description has hay fever and is allergic to tree, grass, herb or grain pollen flying around.
According to the allergy information service of the Helmholtz Centre in Munich, he then suffers from the most common allergic disease in Germany. Hay fever, allergy sufferers know from painful experience, has its high season in spring, because then the pollen count is particularly intense. But allergy-causing pollen is also present at other times of the year.
The pollen calendar shows a hazelnut and alder pollen flight as early as January. In March and April, birch pollen is a major problem for allergy sufferers. After that, the pollen count of many types of grass and cereals begins. And herbs such as mugwort or ragweed cause allergic reactions as of late bloomers in summer and early autumn.
In total, experts today know about 20,000 allergy-causing substances. In people with allergies, the immune system tries to fight off the allergen like a harmful invader. The reaction ranges from sneezing attacks and watery eyes to skin rashes, stomach and intestinal problems and life-threatening circulatory collapse, anaphylactic shock.
Two factors play a crucial role in the onset of allergies: heredity and environmental influences. If parents or siblings have allergies, the risk of being affected themselves is high. For example, excessive hygiene in childhood also promotes the occurrence of allergies later on, since the immune system has not come into contact enough with pathogens and other allergens. The reasons why it overreacts in some people are not yet understood. However, the symptoms and side effects can be treated. Once the triggers have been found, there are various ways to alleviate the symptoms. It is particularly important to avoid allergens.
If pollen allergy sufferers know the plants that pollute them, then they should pay attention to reports on the current regional pollen count on the radio or the Internet.
Hay fever is not trivial, the German Allergy and Asthma Association emphasizes on its website because it can result in allergic asthma and thus a serious lung disease. Experts from the AOK advise that those affected should spend as little time outdoors as possible on days with high pollen count. In the house can help:
- Dust daily and clean the floor with a damp cloth as often as possible.
- Ventilate thoroughly after rain.
- Don’t keep worn clothes in the bedroom because pollen will stick to them.
- Only dry laundry indoors.
- If necessary, install an air filter in the bedroom.
The symptoms of an allergy can be controlled with special medication, for example, antihistamines or cortisone. “Specific immunotherapy” (hyposensitization) is particularly suitable for people who are allergic to pollen and insect venom: The person with allergies receives injections with their allergen mixture for at least three years.
The body gets used to the substances and the symptoms become weaker. The treatment has a very high success rate (up to 90 per cent) for pollen and insect venom allergies. In the case of some allergies, the doctor can now also use drops or tablets instead of injections for hyposensitization.
Test procedure to detect allergies
Skin prick test: small drops of allergen solutions are applied to the inside of the forearm and inserted under the skin through tiny pricks. An immediate allergy shows up after about 20 minutes when wheals form at the injection site.
Plaster/patch test: A plaster with allergen-containing substances is stuck on the back for two days. You can then see whether any allergic reactions have occurred. The test is suitable for contact allergies.
Provocation test: It provides information when the results of skin and blood tests do not match the patient’s symptoms. For example, the allergist tries to trigger a sneezing stimulus in the patient’s nose with a pollen allergen solution. The test shows whether the identified allergens are responsible for the symptoms.
Intracutaneous test: The allergen is injected directly into the skin – usually in the case of an allergy to insect venom or medicines. The result is visible after about 20 minutes.
Helping people help themselves
In addition to many other providers, the German Pollen Information Service Foundation has released a free app in cooperation with the Medical University of Vienna “Pollen” includes, among other things, a pollen diary in which allergy sufferers can enter their complaints and have their pollen load calculated. A constantly updated load map and a personalised risk assessment are included.