Allergies in winter time

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Many allergy sufferers hope that the winter months will be a time of respite. They then wonder why their nose still runs and their eyes water.

According to information from the German Allergy and Asthma Association (Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund e.V.), the cold season can also cause problems for many allergy sufferers. The worldwide temperature rise has a worrying influence on the course of allergies and asthma diseases: Since the flowering period of early-flowering plants is brought forward and that of late-flowering plants is shifted to the later months, the irritation-triggering pollen count can be expected to last much longer. It has already happened that hazelnut pollen, which is only likely in the first months of a year, already flies at the end of the previous year. The exact prediction of the beginning of flowering of critical plants is, therefore significant for allergy sufferers.

However, knowing the start of flowering is obviously not enough because allergy-triggering pollen can also appear outside the regular flowering period. The reason for this is the wind. The flowering time in Europe moves from south to north. For example, the same plant species bloom earlier in Italy than in Germany. The main wind direction at flowering time is decisive for pollen dispersal. If it blows from the south, it carries the pollen up to a week earlier to the north. The pollen can travel distances of up to several hundred kilometers. Areas with little or no allergen potential can suddenly be flooded with “flown-in” pollen from neighboring countries. A change in the weather thus throws a spanner in the works of many an allergen forecast.

Pollen allergy sufferers must also be careful when eating food because more than half of them also develop a so-called cross-allergy. Birch pollen allergy sufferers, for example, may experience sudden tingling, itching, or swelling of the mucous membranes after eating raw apples, almonds, nuts, or Christmas cinnamon cookies. A much-anticipated mulled wine could cause a sniffly nose because sensitive individuals do not tolerate the spices or histamine contained in the red wine.

Mold allergy sufferers can likewise expect a more significant health burden during winter. Under the weathered garden foliage, molds find suitable conditions to multiply as long as it is not freezing outside. The emergency medicines should be with an extended forest walk or longer garden work, therefore convenient.
House dust mites can also become a particular problem in winter. On the one hand, the dry heating air kills the mites and distributes them increasingly in the room with the air circulation. Allergy sufferers are thus exposed to a higher dose of these unwanted allergens in closed, heated rooms. On the other hand, excessively humid room air allows the allergenic mites to grow better. Those affected should therefore take particular care to ventilate regularly in winter to avoid a room climate that is too dry and humid.

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