Thursday, March 23, 2023

Early pollen season in Islamabad – How to deal with allergies?

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has warned of an early onset of pollen season this year in the twin cities, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, due to the abnormal temperature conditions.

According to the PMD, the pollen concentration has already begun to increase in the twin cities and is expected to reach its peak during the second half of March. In the last 24 hours, the pollen count in Islamabad was recorded as “very high”, with paper mulberry, grasses, pines, and cannabis being the major contributors to the rise.

The Islamabad District Health Department has set up healthcare facilities to provide treatment for pollen allergy patients, and healthcare professionals have been trained to recognize and treat pollen allergy symptoms effectively. Therefore, it is crucial to take necessary precautions and seek medical help to avoid any complications arising from pollen allergy during this early pollen season.

“If you suspect that you may have a pollen allergy, it is best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. A doctor can diagnose pollen allergy through a physical examination, medical history, and allergy testing such as skin prick or blood tests,” said Dr. Zaeem Zia, Islamabad District Health Officer.

Pollen Allergy – symptoms and causes

Pollen allergy, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, affects many people in Islamabad, particularly during the spring season. Pollen is a fine powder produced by trees, grasses, and weeds. When inhaled by an individual who is allergic to it, the pollen can trigger a range of symptoms, including sneezing, itching, runny nose, and nasal congestion, and watery eyes.

Treatment for pollen allergy

 Treatment options, according to Dr. Zia include:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines
  • Nasal corticosteroids
  • Decongestants, and
  • Immunotherapy (such as allergy shots or tablets)

Ways to Prevent Pollen Allergy

Office of the District Health Officer Islamabad published an advisory for the prevention and control of pollen allergy. The preventive guidelines shared in the advisory are given below:

  1. Stay informed: Keep track of the daily pollen count on the PMD website and avoid outdoor activities during high pollen count times.
  2. Wear a mask: When outside, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to filter out pollen particles.
  3. Stay indoors and close windows: During the peak pollen season, especially on windy days, try to stay indoors as much as possible and keep windows and doors closed during high pollen times.
  4. Use AC: Use air conditioning with clean or replaced filters in your home and car to filter out pollen particles.
  5. Clean frequently: Vacuum and dust your home often to remove pollen particles from surfaces.
  6. Use a nasal rinse: Flush out pollen particles from your nasal passages with a saline nasal rinse.
  7. Take a shower: After spending time outdoors, take a shower or bath to remove any pollen that may have stuck to your hair or skin.
  8. Take antiallergy medicines: Over-the-counter antihistamines can alleviate symptoms like itching, sneezing, and a runny nose by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical released by the body in response to allergens like pollen.
  9. Consider immunotherapy: Consult a healthcare professional to determine if pollen allergy vaccination is an appropriate treatment option.
  10. Avoid triggers: If you know which plants or trees trigger your allergies, try to avoid them as much as possible.
  11. Consult a healthcare professional: If you suspect that you have a pollen allergy, seek proper diagnosis and treatment from a doctor or allergist who may recommend allergy testing to determine the specific allergen causing your symptoms.

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