For those who suffer with seasonal allergies, the first blossoms of spring aren’t always a welcome sight.
Those who struggle with allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, are particularly prone to sniffing, sneezing, stuffiness and itching when spring arrives. And, unfortunately, this spring may be worse than ever.
Allergens on the rise
Due to climate change, temperatures are rising across the globe. According to USAID, since 1990, South Africa’s national average temperature has increased twice as fast as global temperatures.
And a rise in temperature is linked to longer, more intense pollen seasons, which is the primary trigger for the allergic reaction that causes hay fever.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America identifies a clear link between warmer temperatures and longer pollen seasons, reporting that warmer weather has made the average pollen season 11-27 days longer. And research by the US Department of Agriculture shows that pollen seasons now feature 21% more pollen than in 1990.
The School of Public Health (SPH) at Harvard University links this increased pollen count to the greenhouse gas emissions that are the main cause of climate change. In particular, higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stimulates plants to produce and release more pollen while the warmer conditions cause plants to bloom earlier and for longer.
Allergy-proof your life
The resultant longer pollen seasons and more pollen means stronger airborne allergens, poorer air quality, and more allergies.
Not only is hay fever irritating, painful and detrimental to your quality of life, it can also affect your sleep, which directly affects your brain’s ability to function normally.
Trevor Brewer, Director of air treatment specialist, Solenco, says that a quality air purifier can go a long way towards removing pollen and other allergens from within your home.
“The ‘gold standard’ in air purifier technology is called HEPA and the 24-karat solution is an H13 HEPA filter, which will remove 99.8% of particles that are too small to even see from the air,” says Brewer.
Additional tips to manage allergens in your home include:
- Always shower before bed: Pollen and other allergens get trapped in our hair during the day and then make their way into our airways. If you don’t shower at night, you essentially spend eight hours with the triggers you’re otherwise trying to avoid.
- Don’t remove your nose hair: The hairs in your nose act as a defensive wall that keeps allergens out. Sneezing, while often seen as a symptom, is actually an immune response triggered by your nose hairs to expel allergens.
- Allergy-proof your home: Pollen counts are highest in the early morning and evening, so keep doors and windows closed at these times. Tiled floors are easier to keep dust-free than carpets. Dust with a damp cloth so that allergens are absorbed and disposed of.
Brewer further notes that too much moisture in the air can encourage mould, which can also bring about allergies. He recommends that people who live in damp or humid regions invest in a dehumidifier to prevent damp and mould from forming in their homes.
If you suffer from hay fever and you’ve done everything you can to prevent your exposure to allergens, ask your pharmacist for advice.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.