There is something in the air…
Tissues are now in great demand. Eyes are watering, nose is running, difficulty breathing. What measures can allergy sufferers take for protection?
So small but such a vast effect: With just a thousandth part of a millimetre in size, but pollen can travel several hundred kilometres and literally take one’s breath away. How is this possible?
A thousandth millimetre large Pollen already cause Breathing difficulties
An allergic reaction means: The immune system ranks harmless substances as dangerous and responds with an overreaction.
Consequently, it releases increased antibodies for the perceived danger. Results are allergic reactions such as runny nose, watering eyes, cough and respiratory distress.
20,000-time each day inhaling and exhaling
Pollen allergens are mostly inhalative allergens, i.e. they are inhaled. For that reason, they burden the airways.
With each breath allergy sufferers get in contact with pollen allergens. But why do pollen allergy sufferers react sometimes with a runny nose and at other times with cough and breathlessness?
Clear the ground – The upper and lower Airways
It is a long way from the upper to the lower airways and each and every station is important.
A healthy respiration starts in the nose. Because the nose is our best filter, where dirt particles and dust, but also the smallest insects get caught on the fine nostril hair which of course don’t exist in mouth breathing.
Big pipe – The Larynx separates the Airways
In the pharynx two paths separate: the oesophagus and the trachea. The larynx is the junction from the upper to the lower airways. With the laryngeal valve it consists of a genial system that protects the windpipe, with each bite we swallow, by closing the valve.
However, if for some reason this does not happen, we have swallowed the wrong way and the foreign body is catapulted out of the windpipe by coughing.
Blood requires Oxygen
If at the start the larynx is at an average approximately 2 cm wide and 12 cm in length, the airway gradually branches out into the finest bronchi which end in the left and right lung. At the end of the airway they fill the alveoli (air sacs), like mini balloons, with air so that the blood is supplied with fresh oxygen. With 300 million alveoli this makes for an area of 100 m2 – approximately the size of a 3-bedroom house – enough to provide the body with sufficient oxygen.
Mucous membranes, the ideal runway for Pollen
As the pollen are so tiny even the nasal hair is unable to stop them. What allows the pollen to get so deep into the airways? The mucous membranes. Pollen are water-soluble proteins. When getting into contact with the mucous membranes, fluid emerges from the blood vessels, the mucous membranes swell and redden. This results in the runny nose, reddened eyes, the burning sensation in the throat and finally coughing and breathlessness.
Allergic march from Nose to Lung
It often starts in the upper airways, initially with an allergic rhinitis, the runny nose. When the level changes to the lower airways this can create bronchial asthma.
The good news for pollen allergy sufferers: In contrast to house-dust allergies for instance, pollen allergies are time restricted. Depending on the pollen and climate, pollen allergies can occur more or less the whole year round.
Wind or Bees – it depends on the way of pollination
Pollen are a plant’s male cells. We differentiate wind pollination from pollination by insects. Plants pollinated by insects are better tolerated by allergy sufferers as their pollen is heavy and sticky. Wind pollinated plants push pollen out in large quantities. A rye ear for example releases more than 4 million pollen – on some days one can observe clouds of pollen in the air.
50 pollen per cubic metre air are sufficient to trigger an allergic reaction. The pollen concentration depends on the weather. A beautiful, sunny day allows unfettered flight of pollen. Whereas rain washes pollen away. In the city the pollen concentration is generally at its highest in the evening, in the countryside usually in the morning. It is rather difficult to escape the pollen.
Pollen alarm! What to do?
The best way for pollen allergy sufferers to escape the allergic reactions would be to live where the least allergy causing plants exist. This would mean in the desert, the Artic circle, ocean or in the high mountain range.
As this is most unrealistic for most people there are a few good behavioural measures which reduce the contact with the allergens. Why not consider allergen-poor destinations such as highlands or places at the seaside when planning your holidays? This would be a recreational holiday for the airways and also a tonic for the immune system. Those who can best travel during the high season of ‘their’ pollen allergy.
A means to keep Allergens outside
Here are a few tips to curb the eruption of allergic reaction whilst at home:
- • Those who want to enjoy some time outdoors should try a walk in the rain. When it rains or after the rain the pollen count in the air is less.
- • Always change clothes when coming home – and best to put clothes in the wash straight away or place in a secure cupboard
- • When cleaning the house wipe with a damp cloth, this prevents pollen swirls.
- • Gardeners – why not try to create a low-allergen garden. Ask the specialists at a nursery or visit https://www.homestolove.com.au/low-allergen-garden-8045
The right time for Airing the house
- • In the countryside: at night between 7 pm and midnight
- • In the city: in the morning between 6-8 am
- • In the colder season short airing with wide-open windows is better
- • A pollen screen / fly screen deters at least 85% of pollen
Therapies – what helps with Pollen Allergies?
Unfortunately, the avoidance or reduction of allergens is often not successful. When the problems cannot be curbed with behavioural measures a visit to the doctor or pharmacist is inevitable.
Certain medications help to ease the problems – these are antihistamines and cortisone-containing remedies.
In addition, alternative medicine also offers an opportunity to actively enjoy all seasons.