Spring has yet to arrive, but people who suffer from allergies are already aware of the amount of pollen. The wet winter and recent temperatures have brought the pollen season forward, and people are suffering earlier than they normally do.
Colds and allergic symptoms are similar, in that there is sneezing, congestion, blocked nose and throat and eye irritations. The major differences tend to be that with a cold there is also tiredness, headache and possibly a fever. Around a quarter of the Balearic population are affected by rhinitis, caused by certain types of pollen as well as by dust mites. The worst effects of this can be respiratory problems.
Daniel Pujadas, a doctor from the Quirónsalud Palmaplanas Hospital centre for allergic pathology, says that breathing difficulties and wheezing are bronchial asthma. Patients with symptoms should try and avoid contact with pollen. But it is important to know which pollens one is allergic to and when they arise. Generally speaking, there is less concentration of pollen inside buildings and by the sea. The worst days are those when it is dry and sunny but also windy.
Dr. Alejandro Rotta from the Juaneda Miramar Hospital recommends keeping bedroom and car windows closed, not going into the countryside and wearing sun glasses. Treatment for symptoms typically involves anti-histamines and nasal sprays with corticosteroids. Inhalers can also be used, but these, as with other treatments, relieve symptoms rather than cure them.
Among the most common sources of pollen allergies at this time of the year are olive trees and the "parietaria judaica", known variously as the spreading pellitory or sticky-weed. It is an herbaceous perennial which has a highly allergenic pollen, so much so that it is also called the asthma weed.