Hay fever on the upturn

More than half a million Greeks will suffer from hay fever this spring. Nikolaos Papadopoulos, an allergy specialist and lecturer at Athens University, says the incidence of all allergies has been rising steadily. Ten years ago, Greece had one of the lowest percentages of active allergies (4-5 percent), that is allergies with symptoms reported over the past two years. Now the percentage is over 10 percent. The most allergenic plants are grasses, which release pollen in March, Parietaria, a common weed that flowers in April, and the olive, which produces pollen in mid-May and June. Contrary to popular belief, pine trees do not cause allergies, as their pollen grains are too large to penetrate far into the respiratory tract. It is very difficult to prevent allergic reactions, says Papadopoulos, but one can prevent the symptoms. One first has to realize and accept the existence of the allergy, as ignoring it only makes it more likely that a more serious reaction will develop. For example, simple rhinitis could develop into asthma. Any medicines taken must be subscribed by a doctor. Various preparations on the market that initially relieve symptoms could cause serious reactions later on. The sufferer should avoid allergenic substances by limiting excursions into the countryside and places where there are large concentrations of allergenic plants. As pollen travels very easily (olive pollen can travel up to 100 kilometers, or 62 miles), the sufferer should keep all windows closed, particularly in the early morning and early evening. Air conditioning in the home and automobile is helpful. Having a shower and changing one’s clothes on arriving home is also a good idea. «Spring,» a movement for a better quality of life for people with allergies and asthma, organizes conferences and other events to inform people about allergies.