Your Allergies Could Be Getting Worse With Climate Change


Are you one of the 30% of the South African population that suffers from hay fever? Things might not be easing up for you as there’s an increase of allergens in the air such as pollen and spores, which is the result of climate change, say many experts. Longer, warmer and more humid seasons result in more pollen, and more allergy symptoms such as sniffing, sneezing, itchy eyes and congestion.

One of the reasons is that warmer temperatures allow trees to pollinate earlier and longer than usual. Spring begins much earlier than it did decades ago in various countries, which means that pollen-producing plants, such as grasses, trees, flowers and weeds have a longer pollen-producing season than in the past. Prolonged dry and hot conditions could also trigger allergies in those who haven’t previously had hayfever.

Here are some tips to curb your allergy symptoms:

  • Check the pollen count
  • Find out what the pollen count is (simply Google what it is in your area), and try to avoid or limit being outside during peak times. Also, keep windows and doors closed during these times.
  • Apply balm
  • If you’re outdoors during peak time, you can apply petroleum jelly or balm around your nose, which can act as a pollen trap.
  • Get over-the-counter medication
  • You can find relief from your symptoms over the counter, or in the natural medicine aisles. If your symptoms are severe, head to your doctor for some prescription medication. Nasal spray is excellent for preventing allergy symptoms – try to use it before you’re exposed to pollen or other allergens. Some are safe to use daily, but rather chat to your doctor beforehand.
  • Wash frequently
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 30 seconds to remove any clinging pollens. Don’t touch your eyes with dirty hands and try to rinse your eyes with cool water after coming indoors to help minimise the effects of pollen.
  • Showering at night and washing your hair will also get rid of pollen.
  • Clean your home regularly

While cleaning will never get rid of all the pollen that gets in, it will help. Regular vacuuming and washing of clothes and linen is a must, but try to avoid drying them outside where they are bound to trap more pollen. Dogs and cats can also bring pollen into the house, so try brush them before they come back into the house.

Remember, frequent handwashing with warm water and soap is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay healthy. Also cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze to combat the spread of any infections.