I am pleased to introduce our guest writer, Diane Dean, RN-BC, LPC, CEG from Pittsburgh, PA. Diane is a licensed registered nurse, a licensed counselor, professionally-trained coach and medical writer with 20+ years of healthcare experience.
Pollens: They’re More than Numbers When it Comes to Allergies
Sneeze. Cough. Sniffle. You took your allergy medicine, checked the pollen count and you haven’t missed an allergy shot. So, what’s the problem? Plenty, says Dr Jeroen Buters of TUM’s Chair of Molecular Allergology and the Center of Allergy & Environment. Buters set out to study the germ cells (pollen) of grass, birch trees and olive plants, common allergens in Europe.
Buters noted that factors other than the airborne pollen concentrations can affect your allergy symptoms. The most notable? Maturation of the pollen–the number of allergenic proteins present varies with the age of the pollen.
Pollen concentrations, especially grass pollens, also vary greatly within short period of time and distances, regardless of airborne pollen concentration levels. Buters notes, “The allergic potential varied by a factor of 10. In other words up to ten times more allergens were released on the ‘intense’ days than at other times.” Strangely, distance mattered little. Buter’s research noted vastly different allergen concentrations—almost a fourfold difference in pollen concentrations—in pollen-measuring devices only 250 miles apart.
Last, the weather affects how much you’re wiping your nose or dabbing your tear ducts. Buters fingers wind as one of the main factors that carry pollen from place to place, often inside of a short time span.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a subsidiary of the National Institute of Health, suggests the following measures to help reduce your suffering from environmental allergens, like pollen:
- Avoid the outdoors between 5-10 AM. Save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain, when pollen levels are lower.
- Keep windows in your home and car closed to lower exposure to pollen.
- Avoid hanging clothes outside to dry. Pollen can collect on clothing and be carried indoors.
- Have someone else do the mowing, if you’re allergic to grass. If you must mow the lawn yourself, wear a mask.
- Keep grass cut short.
- Choose low-pollen ground covers and trees, like Irish moss, bunch, dichondra, crape myrtle, dogwood, fig, fir, palm, pear, plum, redbud and redwood trees; or the female cultivars of ash, box elder, cottonwood, maple, palm, poplar or willow trees.
Buters encourages immunologists and environmentalists to combine his new research with existing measures. ”By combining allergen measurements, airborne pollen forecasts and weather data, we can significantly improve the allergy models used to date.” He also remains in favor of developing allergenic proteins for administration to allergy sufferers, in lieu of vaccines.
Buters is a visionary. Although, yes, prevention’s the best measure, until researchers have integrated Buters’ research data into tangible means, we’re stuck with big old tissue wads in our pockets, allergy shot tincture vials, and an assortment of symptomatic over-the-counter remedies.
May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!