You and your
Pollen allergy is a common respiratory disease involving, in most cases, several different types of pollen. However, you do not have to resign yourself to the detrimental effect the disease has on your health when there are solutions available to relieve the symptoms.
The facts about pollen allergy
Pollen allergy is an overreaction to wind-borne pollen grains produced by certain kinds of plants (trees, grasses and herbaceous plants). The condition is referred to as “seasonal allergic rhinitis” because it only occurs during the period when plants are in the reproductive stage. Pollen present in the air can be deposited on the skin, eyes, nose and bronchial tubes, causing symptoms such as:
- itchy, runny or blocked nose,
- red and watery eyes,
- breathing difficulties.
Pollen allergy may also be accompanied by asthma which can aggravate the symptoms1.
Most pollen allergy sufferers are sensitive to several types of pollen and may also react to certain foods containing similar proteins. These reactions are called « cross-reactive allergies »2. A case in point is the cross-reactivity between birch pollen and apple.
The impact on daily life is often underestimated
In Europe, 15 to 20% of people afflicted by the disease suffer a severe form of allergic rhinitis 3 which has a highly detrimental impact on their daily lives. The condition may be accompanied by medical complications such as sleep apnoea, sinusitis and ear infections4 and it can adversely affect sleep quality, the performance of everyday activities, the ability to concentrate, productivity in the workplace and general well-being5. In children and adolescents, seasonal allergy can significantly affect their ability to learn6. A recent European study showed that for nearly two-thirds of patients suffering from tree pollen allergy, their disease represents a real handicap in their daily lives 7 because even though symptoms may be short-lived, they can cause severe discomfort.
Allergic rhinitis can worsen if poorly managed. It has been shown that patients suffering from allergic rhinitis are 3.5 times more likely to be asthmatic than the rest of the population8.
Pollen allergy can often be misunderstood and poorly assessed, even by those afflicted with the condition. It is not untreatable and there are solutions available. Consult an allergy specialist to obtain an allergy assessment and establish an appropriate care plan.
Two tests to help you better understand your respiratory allergy:
- Is your allergic rhinitis mild, moderate or severe?
- What impact does it have on your professional and personal life?
 Baxi S. N. The Role of Allergen Exposure and Avoidance in Asthma. Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2010 April ; 21(1): 57.
 Hauser et al. Panallergens and their impact on the allergic patient. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2010, 6:1
 White P. et al. Symptom control in patients with hay fever in UK general practice: how well are we doing and is there a need for allergen immunotherapy? Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 1998: 28: 266-270.
 Sih T, Mion O. Allergic rhinitis in the child and associated comorbidities. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2010: 21: e107–e113.
 Kremer B. et al. Relationship between allergic rhinitis, disturbed cognitive functions and psychological well-being. Clin Exp Allergy 2002;32:1310-15. Walker S, Khan-Wasti S, Fletcher M, Cullinan P, Harris J, Sheikh A. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is associated with a detrimental effect on examination performance in United Kingdom teenagers: case–control study. J. Allergy Clin.Immunol. 120(2), 381–387 (2007).
 Brehler et al. Perceptions and experience of tree pollen allergy in the general public in four European countries. Allergy (Suppl 97), 358 Abstract 949
 Shaaban R et al. Rhinitis and onset of asthma: a longitudinal population-based study. Lancet. 2008, 372:1049-1057