The arrival of the spring season brings the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, a real benefit for health and well-being. This season, however, represents a moment of fatigue and suffering for patients who are allergic to pollens from different plants, which consequently bloom month after month.

A survey carried out last February by Assosalute (National Association of Self-medication Drugs) on a thousand citizens showed that about 40% of the sample suffers from some allergic form, out of which 19.5% in spring, with an increase compared to 2014 (16.7%).


Increasing allergies

The incidence of respiratory allergies is constantly increasing and it is related not only to genetic factors, but also to lifestyle and environmental factors; in general, the percentage of people suffering from allergies is around 40% of the general population, confirming the result of the recent Assosalute survey.

“The prevalence calculation reports about 30% of teenagers with rhinitis, with a growing trend, and it has been calculated that this population could reach 50% in 2020,” explains Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica, Head of the Centre for Personalized Medicine: Asthma and Allergology in Humanitas and President of SIAAC, Italian Society of Allergology, Asthma and Clinical Immunology.


Symptoms and consequences

Sneezing, itching in the eyes, tearing and a congested nose are the most common symptoms in allergic patients; their presence affects the quality of night sleep, concentration, general wellbeing and daily habits, as well as family and social relationships.

“Sleep difficulties and consequent irascibility are among the most annoying effects for those suffering from spring allergies. This negative condition at night limits the performance of the allergic subject and drastically reduces productivity at work for adults and study in young people or children. This is also the most significant social cost impact of allergic rhinitis,” says Professor Canonica.


Advice against spring allergies

As well as consulting the pollen calendars to know the blossoming periods, it is advisable not to go out during the hours of greatest pollen concentration (the hottest ones) or on very hot and windy days. Moreover, pay attention to the initial phases of a thunderstorm because rain facilitates the release of allergens from pollens.

It is recommended to try to breathe through your nose rather than the mouth, allowing the body – through the nose – to purify the air of some particles. Keep the windows closed in your car and use the air conditioner, which should be equipped with a pollen filter. Wear a mask and sunglasses on your bike or motorbike.

It can also help to shower every day, wash nasal cavities (which as a filter retain pollens) and cleanse the eyelids, eyelashes and eyebrows.

In the house it is advisable to keep the windows closed as much as possible during the day, changing the air early in the morning or late at night, when the pollen concentration is lower.