The first results are in, and allergy-sufferers couldn’t be more excited. There could be hope to reduce the sniffling, sneezing, itchy eyes and ears and headaches that happen like clockwork thanks to pollen. It all starts with more clearly identifying the grass pollen that is the root of it all.
Allergies and pollen
Seasonal allergies, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, is believed to affect 6.1 million children and 20 million adults. While many types of pollen can trigger allergy symptoms, grass pollen is one of the most common. Unlike other kinds of pollen that are moved around by insects, grass pollen takes to the wind to find sensitive noses and immune systems to trigger and inflame.
Those who suffer from grass pollen allergies may try to avoid exposure by staying indoors, leaving shoes and outerwear outside and even wear special masks. To help control symptoms, people may turn to saline sprays and rinses, antihistamines, steroid injections and even immunotherapy. The newest research findings, though, could help those with grass pollen allergies better avoid pollen and the symptoms it triggers.
Breaking down the grass pollen
The latest research findings, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, indicate that allergy sufferers may benefit more from knowing the type of grass pollen in the air, not just how much total pollen is in the air as is currently forecasted. Up until now, breaking down grass pollen into different species has proved difficult, leaving allergy sufferers continuing to suffer. Thanks to the newest technology, though, the very DNA signatures of pollen captured can be matched up to a growing database of materials to help identify it beyond just grass, weed, or tree.
Now experts are using data from a three-year project to analyze these airborne grass pollens and connect it to individuals’ symptoms.
“We are now investigating datasets on hospital admissions and GP prescriptions for certain pharmaceutical products to identify correlations between healthcare data and increases in particular grass pollens,” said Dr. Ben Wheeler of University of Exeter in the UK. “With these new insights into pollen characterization, we are focusing on future implications for pollen warnings and self-care strategies.”
This breakdown of grass pollens by species could spell relief for millions in the future thanks to more precise forecasts.
Managing Seasonal Allergies
While researchers are quickly piecing together the data, it may still be some time before the analysis is complete, and these more precise forecasts are available for those with seasonal allergies. In the meantime, those affected by seasonal allergies or hay fever can find relief by preventing exposure or working with an Ear, Nose and Throat professional to prevent and manage symptoms. In some cases, even more unconventional treatments such as acupuncture have been shown to be effective for seasonal allergies.
If you feel you’ve been side-lined by sneezing, sniffling and other common symptoms of allergic rhinitis, it’s time to take steps to get back in the game. Contact our office to learn more about preventing and managing symptoms like these now and throughout the year.