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Saima Jabbar |

Happiness is spread all around as tiny buds start sprouting and greenery is seen everywhere, announcing the arrival of spring season after a chilly spell of winters. In Islamabad, this pleasant season starts in March. One can find greenery all over the city which looks beautiful to naked eyes. But, unfortunately, not all the citizens of the federal capital welcome this season enthusiastically.

A huge number of pollen grains remain suspended in the atmosphere hence causing allergies by reaching the human respiratory tract through inhalation.

There are a number of people who are worried from an enemy at their doorstep. This tiny, yet significant, enemy is Pollen allergy. Pollen count in the air increases during spring season causing difficulties in breathing, runny nose, allergic asthma, and also skin rashes to some people. The season lasts from the first week of March till the first week of April.

What is Pollen Allergy?

Pollen grains are main culprits for pollen allergy symptoms and these are the male tiny particles released from trees, weeds, and grasses during their reproduction season (March/April). The function of these tiny microscopic pollen grains is to fertilize other parts of plants, but not all of the grains reach their destination.

A huge number of pollen grains remain suspended in the atmosphere hence causing allergies by reaching the human respiratory tract through inhalation. This seasonal type of allergy only occurs during the reproductive phase of plants.

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Symptoms of Pollen allergy

Symptoms of pollen allergy include sneezing, runny or clogged nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat, watery eyes, difficulty in breathing, swelling of eyes, and the worst of all: allergic asthma – a serious respiratory condition.

Islamabad is one of the cities in the world having the highest pollen count in the world.

Causes of Pollen allergies

Paper Mulberry, Acacia, Eucalyptus, Pines, Grasses, Cannabis Dandelion, and Alternaria are main pollen producing plants. Paper Mulberry is the largest pollen grains producing plant and is wildly cultivated in the city.

During normal days pollen count is negligible but during spring season it sometimes touches a massive number: more than 40,000 pollen counts per m3 of air daily.

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Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) was introduced to Islamabad from South East Asia over 30 years ago. The basic idea behind its introduction was to make the capital city greener as quickly as possible. In the matter of a few years the dream of making the capital greener did come true but, unfortunately, in this effort the residents of the city suffered from the allergies during its reproductive season, i.e. spring (March/April).
The plant’s trees spread wildly in the city and by the time Capital Development Authority found that its pollens are causing allergies to the residents, it had already gotten out of hand. It was too difficult to eradicate as the trees liked the atmosphere and climate of this area.

During spring season it sometimes touches a massive number: more than 40,000 pollen counts per m3 of air daily.

Treatment for Pollen allergies

In the past, city administration tried to eradicate the plant a few times, but, in fact, it caused them to multiply. The reason is when the trunk of this plant is cut down, it fights back by sending up fast-growing shoots from its extensive underground root system. Also, unfortunately, cutting down each of these new shoots actively encourages a number of more shoots to grow up.

At the end, the only option left is to launch allergy awareness campaigns run by National Institute of Health. Special free allergy camps are organized for the patients, a few days before the start of this problematic allergy season. But the question is: How safe are these treatments and do they actually work?

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Some patients are satisfied with these treatments before the start of the season but many patients still suffer from the symptoms despite the allergy treatments before time.

Thousands of patients get treated in the hospitals’ emergencies as the pollen count reaches its peak. Best advice for the allergy patients is to move out of the city during peak pollen count days. If a patient cannot afford to go out of the city then staying indoors is the safest option as the number of pollens outside is always higher than inside a building. Face masks are also advised by doctors that cover the nose hence reducing the chances for pollens to enter the respiratory system.

Few Home Remedies:

Daily dose of antihistamines, anti-allergic asthma tablets, nasal sprays inhalers, and nebulizers are required for the treatment of the allergies. Saline nasal spray and hot and spicy foods help to thin the mucous secretions in nose thus making the nose clearer. Ginger tea and Apple cider vinegar in warm water are also effective remedies for treating allergic asthma.

Spring is no doubt one of the most pleasant times of the year, but now is easily be ruined by pollen allergies. Taking a few precautionary measures can guarantee good health and help you enjoy the beauty of this season.

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