Monday 25 March 2019

'Super pollen' effect causing very aggressive hay fever for sufferers right now - Irish expert

Pollen mixed with pollution is exacerbating hay fever symptoms for many sufferers. Photo: Deposit photos
Pollen mixed with pollution is exacerbating hay fever symptoms for many sufferers. Photo: Deposit photos
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Hay fever sufferers in Ireland and the UK are experiencing severe symptoms because of a “super pollen” effect, caused by pollen and pollution.

Dr Paul Carson from Allergy Ireland said people who have never experienced hay fever are now presenting with symptoms.

He told “There are two issues coming together at the moment: There’s a very high level of nitrous oxide in the air – which is pollution - and that combined with the continued and persistently raised level of pollen, hay fever sufferers are getting much more aggressive hay fever than they were.”

“And people who would never have really experienced hay fever, or would have had a summer cold as they would have called it, are now suffering.”

Dr Carson added: “The link between pollution and allergy is well known. There is this thing called “super pollen”, where particulate matter from diesel fumes leach with pollen grain and produce a very aggressive pollen. So people in the cities actually have more symptoms than their country cousins.”

“That's been recognised for a long time.”

This summer’s heatwave has caused Ireland’s traditional pollen season to lengthen.

“Theoretically we shouldn't be [in pollen season] because mid the season is mid-May to the end of June, but with the bizarre weather we’ve had… a very long, prolonged winter, a two-week spring, and this hot summer, we’ve had had full blooms, it's been warm and sunny for so long. It's ideal for pollen, it’s not ideal for hay fever sufferers.”

Some 24pc of Irish people (or 1.2million) have allergies, but 50pc of this group don't actually know what they're allergic to.

It’s important for parents to seek treatment for their children who are suffering with sore, swollen and irritable eyes, Dr Carson said.

“You can use antihistamines, just talk to your pharmacist. But if a child's allergy is affecting the eyes, and they’re swollen, red, and irritated, you probably should have a family doctor check it out. Because it can potentially damage the lining of the eye.”

The Hay Fever Relief app by Dr Carson is free to download, and is designed as an encyclopedic source of information for hay fever sufferers, he says.

Meanwhile, here are some of Dr Carson’s top tips on how to combat your hay fever.

  • Put used tea bags in the fridge. These are very effective compresses for irritated eyes
  • Nasal medical, an award-winning Irish start-up has designed a discreet device which you place in your nose, and which blocks pollen from entering the nasal cavity.
  • Keep away from high grass areas
  • Keep your car and house windows closed
  • Wrap around glasses are now available for children to keep pollen away from their eyes
  • Keep children indoors during late mornings and late afternoons
  • Don't smoke in front of your children or smoke yourself
  • Try and visit the seaside, because on shore breezes blow pollen away
  • Don't sleep with the window open in the bedroom
  • Don't drive with the car window open
How to beat hay fever

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