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Friday March 01, 2024

Advisory for prevention, control of pollen allergy issued

March 13, 2023

Islamabad: District Health Officer Islamabad has issued a detailed advisory regarding prevention and control of pollen allergy asking people suffering from the disease to take precautionary measures well in time as the pollen is likely to attain peak during the second 10 days of March in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The DHO Islamabad Dr. Muhammad Zaeem Zia said the Pakistan Meteorological Department has indicated the rising concentration of pollen in the federal capital and based on the current temperature conditions, an earlier start to the pollen season is anticipated this year.

Pollen allergy, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, is a common condition worldwide, and its incidence and prevalence can vary depending on factors such as geographic location, climate and the types of plants and trees in the area. Pollen allergy affects many people in Islamabad, particularly during the spring season when the concentration of pollen in the air is high. Pollen is a fine powder produced by trees, grasses, and weeds, and is an essential part of the reproductive process of these plants. However, when pollen is inhaled by an individual who is allergic to it, it can trigger a range of symptoms, including sneezing, itching, runny nose, nasal congestion, and watery eyes. These symptoms can significantly impact the quality of life of the affected individuals, making it difficult to perform daily activities or work.

Dr. Zaeem said through the advisory, his office would like to create awareness about the basics of pollen allergy, including its symptoms, causes, and prevention measures. We would like to provide information on the available treatment options and management strategies to help those affected by pollen allergy so that they can lead a comfortable life during the allergy season, he said.

Pollen allergy is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, or flowers. When a person with a pollen allergy comes into contact with pollen, their immune system overreacts, causing symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion.

The advisory states that in general, pollen allergies tend to be more common in areas with a temperate climate, and prevalence rates may be higher in urban areas due to the presence of environmental pollutants that can exacerbate allergy symptoms. Paper mulberry (most common), pine, acacia, eucalyptus, grasses (Bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass, and Timothy grass), and weeds such as ragweed, nettle, and mugwort are the trees and plants found in Islamabad that can cause pollen allergy symptoms.

The DHO said that it is important to note that not everyone is allergic to the same plants or trees, and that allergy symptoms can vary in severity and timing from person to person. If you suspect that you may have a pollen allergy, you better consult a doctor or allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The pollen allergy typically occurs during the spring and fall seasons when plants release their pollen however, depending on the climate and the types of plants in an area, pollen allergy may occur the year-round. A doctor can diagnose pollen allergy through a physical examination, medical history, and allergy testing such as skin prick or blood tests. The treatment for pollen allergy can include over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, decongestants, and immunotherapy (such as allergy shots or tablets) by the specialist.

The advisory states that ways to prevent pollen allergy include staying indoors during peak pollen times, keeping windows and doors closed, using air conditioning with HEPA (High Efficiency Particles Arresting) filters, wearing a mask when outside, cleaning regularly, using a saline nasal rinse, and avoiding known triggers.

Dr. Zaeem is of the view that by understanding the basics of pollen allergy, people can take steps to prevent or manage their allergy symptoms and improve their quality of life during pollen season. Keep an eye on the daily pollen count, which can be found on PMD website (www.pmd.gov.pk). Avoid outdoor activities during times of high pollen count. Wear a mask when outside. Keep your windows and doors closed during peak pollen times, particularly in the morning when pollen counts are the highest. Vacuum and dust your home frequently to remove pollen particles from surfaces. Take a shower or bath after spending time outdoors to remove any pollen that may have stuck to your hair or skin.

He said the decision to pursue pollen allergy vaccination should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional who can assess the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and overall health to determine if the treatment is appropriate for them. If you know which specific plants or trees trigger your allergies, try to avoid them as much as possible. Dr. Zaeem said the District Health Department, Islamabad has set up healthcare facilities in the federal capital to provide treatment for pollen allergy patients. They have also trained healthcare professionals to recognize and treat pollen allergy symptoms effectively.