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Blame climate change? More elderly people with pollen allergy
Allergic runny nose caused by pollen was formerly considered a disease of the youth, which grows over the years. But more and more people only suffer from it in adulthood. There is also a significant increase in senior citizens.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that climate change endangers human health and increases lung diseases, among other things. Apparently global warming is also causing an increase in pollen allergy and hay fever.
The first pollen is already flying
As the KKH commercial health insurance company writes in a current announcement, the mostly frost-free winter in many places does not allow allergy sufferers to take a breather: the first hazel and alder pollen is already flying.
It is striking that, thanks to climate change, the pollen season is starting earlier, the pollen is becoming increasingly aggressive and the number of hay fever plagues is increasing - according to KKH data, especially among adults from middle age.
From 2008 to 2018, the health insurance company recorded an increase of around 27 percent in the 45- to 64-year-old age group. There are already 43 percent of those aged 65 to 79, and in the 80 plus generation the number of people with pollen allergy has more than doubled.
Pollen allergies are increasingly diagnosed for the first time in adulthood
According to the analysis, around every 20th adult aged 45 and over (approx. 50,000 KKH insured persons) is particularly affected by hay fever due to pollen. Some have struggled with it since childhood.
For many, the complaints become less over the years or almost disappear entirely. The symptoms often increase again in middle adulthood, which explains the increase from 45 years on the one hand. On the other hand, pollen allergies are increasingly being diagnosed for the first time in adulthood.
One of the reasons for this is air pollution, because researchers are increasingly observing the development of allergies in adults in large cities. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) accelerates plant growth and thus the production of pollen.
In addition, environmental pollutants such as ozone accumulate on the pollen and make them increasingly aggressive. They then trigger allergic reactions in older people who have never had to deal with hay fever in the past - especially if the immune system is already weakened, for example due to other diseases or other harmful environmental influences.
The KKH evaluation underpins the statements made by experts, because in federal states with conurbations such as North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse the proportion of hay fever plagues is higher than in federal states with predominantly rural areas such as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia. In addition, increasingly milder temperatures ensure a longer pollen season.
Significantly worse effects than with young people
As the health insurance company explains, a pollen allergy is manifested by typical hay fever symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes. Some people also have flu-like complaints such as body aches, feel dull, and are often irritable.
A skin and blood test can be used to find out whether it is actually a reaction to pollen or a cold. The KKH recommends having this carried out by a specialist.
Rapid detection and treatment is important so that hay fever does not turn into an allergic asthma. Caution is advised, especially with seniors, especially if they already have a damaged bronchial system.
If hay fever and asthma are added, this can have significantly worse effects than in young people.
[GList slug = ”10-home remedies for hay fever”]
What can help those affected
Various tips and home remedies can help prevent or alleviate pollen allergy symptoms.
The safest protection is to avoid pollen. With the help of special apps and on websites, you can check when the pollen count is strongest and sometimes your individual allergic risk can be "predicted".
It is also recommended to ventilate between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the pollen count is the lowest. In strong winds, ventilation should be avoided. So that no pollen-laden clothes are brought into the bedroom, it is best to take them off in the bathroom.
You are also advised to take a shower before going to bed; especially the hair should be washed, as pollen may have settled there.
Wet towels hung in the room can help because pollen sticks to them. If it rains, allergy sufferers are advised to use this time for a walk.
Many also benefit from specific immunotherapy (hyposensitization), in which the immune system slowly gets used to the allergenic substance over a longer period of time by regularly giving the person concerned a gradually increasing dose.
Because of the possible side effects that this treatment method can bring with it, such as allergic reactions or circulatory problems, some people prefer to rely on naturopathic treatments such as autologous blood therapy, acupuncture or Bach flower therapy.
In rare cases, medication is also recommended, which is used to relieve and prevent the symptoms of hay fever and to treat inflammatory swelling of the mucous membranes. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.