Saturday 1 October 2016

Hay fever sufferers warned of 'super pollen' in cities

Published 12/04/2016 | 02:30

Nathan O’Kelly: planning ahead. Picture by Fergal Phillips
Nathan O’Kelly: planning ahead. Picture by Fergal Phillips

Hay fever sufferers who live in cities are enduring more severe symptoms than those in the countryside because pollution has helped create "a super pollen" that goes deep into the airways.

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A mixture of particles from diesel fuel and pollen is leading to a more aggressive form of hay fever, said Dr Paul Carson, the south Dublin GP who specialises in the allergy.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grass and weeds.

"There may be more pollen in the countryside but it is not as aggressive as in the city. One in four people in Ireland look forward to the warmer weather with dread, knowing it will trigger streaming eyes, sneezing, headaches and a blocked nose."

The bad news is the pollen count could be more severe than normal this summer because of our wet winter and the burst of lush growth which may follow, he warned.

Dr Carson said while it is human nature for people to wait until symptoms strike they should start to manage the condition early.

He advises sufferers to start applying a nasal spray rather than anti-histamines at this point to protect themselves from swelling and blockage in the nose. Advice to prepare early was echoed by Sharon Cosgrove, chief executive of the Asthma Society of Ireland, who said it is imperative the country's 470,000 asthma sufferers have a plan in place to manage both conditions.

Nathan O'Kelly (10), from Laytown in Dublin, who suffers from asthma and hay fever, will prepare early, said his mother Sarah-Jane.

In the past, the talented footballer has suffered swollen eyes and other severe symptoms due to grass pollen.

"Nathan needs prescription medication for hay fever. Over the counter versions are no longer strong enough," said Sarah-Jane.

Irish Independent

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