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Pollen Allergy

by Jane Thurnell-Read

 

There are certain times of the year when practitioners are likely to see a lot of people with seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Understanding more about the pollen calendar and other considerations can enable you to help your clients more effectively. Our two pollen kits - Pollen 1 and Pollen 2 - are invaluable during this time of the year.

 

pollen on stamensThe amount of pollen in the air is closely related to the weather. Pollen counts are low on cold, rainy days and high on hot dry days. Prevailing winds will also affect the concentration of pollens in a given area. Highest pollen counts occur in morning and late afternoon in the immediate vicinity of the plants, but will be later if the pollen is carried on the wind to an area.


Pollen problems start much earlier in the year than many people think. In England, for example, the first pollens are around in February or March (some trees, garden flowers and gorse) and the season ends in August, but it can start as early as January and go on into November. With global warming this unpredictability is likely to increase.

The British Metrological Office says that the pollen season separates into three main sections:

 

  • Tree pollen - late March to mid-May.
  • Grass pollen - mid-May to July.
  • Weed pollen - end of June to September

Their pollen calendar has a detailed breakdown of the different types of pollen and their peak times within a season.
 

If you are not in the UK, do a web search for “pollen calendar” adding, if necessary, the name of your country, and you should get a detailed pollen calendar for where you are.


So it is possible to have symptoms starting very early in the year and lasting into late summer, although most people will react to a more limited range of pollens. Traditionally pollen allergies are associated with hay fever and asthma, but in my experience they can contribute to many other problems as well. Many people are not aware that pollens affect them: they think they have just got a cold. In conversation they will admit that summer colds are much worse than winter ones because they last so long. When I show them that they are sensitive to pollens, they are amazed, because they have assumed that hay fever involves sneezing, itchy eyes etc. I once saw a youngster who only bed wet in summer; sorting out her pollen sensitivity using the energy mismatch technique stopped the bed wetting completely.

 

Of course, many people react to grass. In the UK the most common grasses that cause problems are perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne) and timothy grass (Phleum pratense). Some people react adversely when grass is cut. They often assume this is because they are allergic to grass pollens, but it could equally well be moulds. Moulds grow in the matted layer at the base of the grass blades and are disturbed and released into the atmosphere when the grass is cut. So, if your client is particularly susceptible to problems when near cut grass, check out moulds as well as grass pollens.

 

People often assume that an allergic reaction to flowers is to roses and similar plants with large flowers. This is unusual except in keen gardeners and florists. The flowers are large in order to attract pollinating insects that then carry the sticky pollen to another flower. This means that very little of the pollen is in the air, unlike smaller flowers which tend to be pollinated by the wind. Pollen from these often nondescript plants can travel long distances on the air currents and are most likely to be a problem.

 

Jane Thurnell-Read, (c) 2014, author of Allergy A to Z

 

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