With spring around the corner, seasonal allergy sufferers1 may be bracing themselves for what is being described as a 21st-century epidemic2, an apparent increase in the number of people suffering from a variety of allergies3.
While there is no specific explanation for the growing number of people with allergies, it is thought that this could be linked to new eating habits, allergen exposure (early on in life), increasing air pollution2, as well as the change in climate3.
Recent studies have shown that levels of pollen3, one of the most common allergens for seasonal allergy sufferers1, are gradually increasing every year3. This is being attributed to the climate change, more specifically, warmer temperatures and milder winters which triggers plants to start producing and releasing pollen earlier3.
Dr Corli Lodder of the Allergy Clinic in Boksburg, Johannesburg concurs. “I do agree with the fact that global warming and pollution are playing a part in the increase of allergic conditions and the severity”. He also attributes the increase in allergies to the increase in the presence of mould. “We know now that the climate is changing due to pollution and global warming. We have longer warm seasons and due to the increase in temperature, the humidity of areas is changing, leading to an increase in mould growth and the possibility of more severe allergies. Thunderstorms are more common, leading to more severe grass pollen reactions. The pollen disintegrates and ‘explodes’, presenting smaller particles which are more allergenic and can penetrate the airways more efficiently.”4
Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include sneezing, a runny, stuffy or itchy nose, coughing, a sore or scratchy throat, itchy or watery eyes, dark circles under the eyes, frequent headaches and excessive fatigue1.
Dr Lodder says sufferers in the Highveld areas of South Africa are particularly at risk. “These patients would be allergic to grass pollen. Symptoms are often more severe during spring and early summer but can be present during autumn and winter as well due to the warmer climate and grass pollen that is present during the whole year. Tree pollen will cause symptoms mostly in spring. Indoor allergens such as house dust mites and moulds, can also lead to runny noses as well as blocked noses”4, he says.
Alarmingly, 50% of runny, blocked and itchy noses are caused by allergies5 and up to 30% of the worldwide population are affected by allergies at some point, with their prevalence is on the rise!6
Allergies have a major impact on an individual’s quality of life, with sufferers reporting the following experiences regarding their nasal allergy symptoms6:
- 80% feel tired
- 65% feel miserable
- 64% feel irritable
- 36% feel depressed
- 23% feel embarrassed
Dr Lodder says that people often suffer with constant runny noses and watery eyes without thinking that it can be an allergy and that this can be treated. “I think it is specially a problem in families with more than one person suffering because it is perceived to be normal,” he says4. Furthermore, he says that people with constantly blocked noses which often lead to more troublesome symptoms can result in patients consulting with doctors, thinking they are experiencing sinus issues and being given antibiotics. This leads to the recurrent unnecessary use of antibiotics4.
While some people have allergies from early childhood, others can develop them only later in life4.
“Allergic inflammation follows sensitization to an allergen and develops over time. This can differ in patients and can cause symptoms at any stage in life. The elderly are often neglected and undertreated due to the misbelief that allergies cannot start to cause symptoms late in life. The environment and exposure to specific allergens can be the determining factor of when symptoms will present,”4 says Dr Lodder.
According to the Allergy Foundation South Africa, many sufferers do not seek help as they simply get used to living with these symptoms7.
Allerguard is a treatment available at all leading pharmacies which can be used in children and helps to prevent sneezing and itchy, runny or blocked noses. It has recently been added to the Allergy Foundation South Africa (AFSA) list of approved products as part of their Seal of Approval Programme8. All products listed on this website have been shown to be efficient in reducing allergens from the environment or the products have significantly reduced allergen or chemical content in accordance with the AFSA Certification8.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more information about Allergic Rhinitis or go to www.gotallergies.co.za.
DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals. This editorial has content that includes independent comments and opinions from independent healthcare providers and are the opinions and experiences of that particular healthcare provider which are not necessarily that of iNova Pharmaceuticals. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice.
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- Healthline – Allergic Rhinitis (https://www.healthline.com/health/allergic-rhinitis#prevention) Website accessed on 20 June 2018
- Flanders News.Be. “Allergies to become the 21st Century epidemic” (http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/Health%2Band%2BEnvironment/1.2191203) – Website accessed on 20 June 2018
- ScienceDaily – The Spring of 2014 allergy season could be the worst yet…” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306130050.htm) Website accessed on 20 June 2018
- Dr Corli Lodder – June 2018
- Eichel A et al. Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Ectoine Nasal Spray in Patients with Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis. Journal of Allergy. 2014.
- Pawankar R et al. (eds) WAO White Book on Allergy 2011 World Allergy Organization
- Allergic Rhinitis – Allergy Foundation South Africa (http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za/patient-information/en/allergic-diseases/allergic-rhinitis/) (Website accessed on 25 January 2018)
- AFSA list of approved products– Allergy Foundation South Africa (http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za/approved-products/) (Website accessed on 25 January 2018)