The allergy season is getting longer with more aggressive pollens

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Serial sneezing, itchingasthma attacks: allergy sufferers are particularly affected this year, due to weather conditions that favored the dispersion of high concentrations of pollena trend that is expected to increase with the global warming.

In recent weeks I have suffered much stronger attacks than in previous years at the same time “, tells AFP Élodie Germain, 43, resident in Ile-de-France and allergic to pollen sinceadolescence. So much so that this entrepreneur, who has just bought a country house in Normandy, asked herself the question of going there to spend weekends.

As soon as I was green, it’s as if a vague pollen washed over me “, she explains. She describes some symptoms disabilities, between a nose constantly runny, itchy skin all over the face, neck and palate and — novelty — ” a asthma nocturnal [l’]preventing sleep “. Associations and allergists confirm having received a large number of calls from patients, even if it is not possible to quantify the phenomenon.

It is also difficult to compare with the two previous years, according to Pascale Couratier, general manager of the French association for prevention of the allergies. ” In 2020, there was confinement, so people went out less. And last year, wearing a mask was able to protect against allergies “, she underlines.

Not a region spared by the red alert

But one thing is certain this year: Symptoms were felt by many and very violently “, she summarizes. To treat themselves, allergists most often prescribe antihistamines, drops or some corticosteroidsand possibly a long-term treatment of desensitization.

Allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction initiated by a specific immune reaction to a substance foreign to the human body, called an allergen, whose pollen be part of.

The heat promotes pollination and the wind disperses the pollen grains in the air

Three major pollen periods follow one another during the year. First that of the pollens oftrees (Olivier, plane tree, birch, oak, etc.). Then that of the pollens of grasses which corresponds to the period of hay fever. The season ends with the pollens of herbaceous plants and ragweed. The diffusion of these pollens depends on the weather conditions. The heat promotes pollination and wind disperses the pollen grains in theair.

This year, the heat, which appeared early in the season, contributed to the dissemination of a very large quantity of grass pollen. According to the latest bulletin from the National Aerobiological Surveillance Network (RNSA), which monitors the content of biological particles in the air, the whole of France is still on red alert for allergic risks.

Blame it on global warming

If the big allergies should calm down after the end of June, we can expect longer and probably more intense allergy seasons in the coming years.

In question, global warming. ” In 30 years, it has already been observed that the quantities of birch pollen have increased by more than 20%”, told AFP Samuel Monnier, spokesperson for the RNSA. With the temperatures warming up on the surface of the globe, certain plants or trees are also gaining new territories. ” More and more ambrosias, which are very allergenic plants, are moving north, including at altitude “, notes Mr. Monnier.

In France, approximately 20% of children from the age of 9 and 30% of adults are now affected by pollen allergies, according to the Ministry of Health. Figures that will inevitably increase in the years to come, warn specialists. ” Global warming will lead to longer pollen seasons, while pollution will make pollens more aggressive”warns Isabelle Bossé, president of the union of allergists.

This is a real public health issueshe pleads. When we don’t live a severe allergy, we can not understand what it is. It has a huge impact on the quality of life. »

Scientists have bad news for allergy sufferers

Article of Julie Kernpublished on March 26, 2022

If you live on the Mediterranean arc, you may have an itchy nose, eyes runny and uncontrollable sneezing for a few days. In the region, the cupressaceae (redwoods, the cypress and junipers) come out of their winter rest and produce pollen in large quantities. In the west of France, ash pollen saturates the air. The 2022 season started quite early, from mid-January, in particular because of the mild temperatures recorded at the start of the year. A trend that is likely to continue, or even increase, with global warming.

The endless allergy season

Yingxao Zhang and Allison Steinerfrom Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering from the University of Michigan, are working on a computer simulation which predicts the intensity and the duration of the emissions daily pollen between 2081 and 2100 — in a world where temperatures would have jumped by 4 to 6°C. Their analysis concerns only the United States and 13 taxa plants responsible for 77% of respiratory allergies in the country. According to their results, the pollen season could be much longer, but also more intense than the one we are currently experiencing. Bad news for allergy sufferers!

The simulation indicates that spring pollens could appear 10 to 40 days in advance, and those of summer andfall last up to 15 additional days. Regarding the intensity of pollen emissions, all species botanicals analyzed here do not react in the same way. For example, the precipitation and temperature decrease daily pollen production by 33% for alder, but increase that of oak by 50%.

Even so, the overall increase in pollen emissions over one year is up 16 to 40%. Who says more CO2 atmospheric, also says more pollen. It’s a sighting made for many years by the scientific community. When the CO concentrations2 enter the researchers’ simulation, the peak in pollen production is 200% higher than that observed in recent years, still in the United States.

An important public health topic

Respiratory allergies due to pollen are a real public health issue. They concern 20 to 25% of French people, adults and children alike. In predisposed people, respiratory allergies, such as tobacco or pollution, can promote the appearance of asthma. This chronic disease is characterized byinflammation of the bronchi which causes episodes of shortness of breath, dyspnoea, pressure chest and cough.

Nearly 2,000 people die each year as a result of asthma, including a hundred children, adolescents or young adults. Public Health France estimates that more than 60,000 people are hospitalized for an asthma attack every year. In future years, respiratory allergies are likely to last longer and be more severe, increasing the risk of complications.

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