Later than last year, but now the pollen season has begun and with it the time of suffering for pollen allergy sufferers in the north too. Currently, there is already a moderate to high amount of hazel pollen and a low to moderate amount of alder pollen in the Swiss Plateau. The prevailing high-pressure weather in the coming days will favor the pollen count; only on Thursday will the pollen be washed out of the air with a disturbance and some precipitation in the north, but the pollen concentration will quickly rise again afterwards.
Currently already a moderate amount to a lot of hazel pollen and the first alder pollen
At the moment, more and more people are experiencing red, watery eyes, sneezing fits and a runny nose, an unmistakable sign that the pollen season has begun. It is noticeable that allergy sufferers are particularly sensitive to pollen at the beginning of the season. This is probably due to the fact that, on the one hand, the immune system is not yet as well prepared after the winter months and, on the other hand, the pollen has more allergens at the beginning of the season than towards the end. After an average to slightly below-average temperature in the north in the first half of January, the pollen season in the north started later this year than last year, when hazel pollen was already blooming more strongly in the first half of January due to the exceptionally mild weather. With temperatures mostly above average for more than a week, the hazelnuts have now also awoken from their winter hibernation this year and are already flowering quite strongly, so that the hazel pollen load at low altitudes is currently already moderate to strong (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1: They are blooming again - pollen-dispersing hazel catkins currently in Sarganserland; Source: Roger Perret
At medium altitudes, the hazel pollen concentration is still low. In addition, the first alders are already blooming, with alder pollen counts in the Swiss Plateau currently low to moderate (see also pollenundallergie.ch). In the south, hazel and alder have already started to bloom in the first half of January due to significantly above-average temperatures; the hazel pollen count here is already high and the alder pollen count is moderate.
The following pollen calendar (Fig. 2) provides an overview of the most important allergenic plants in Switzerland, the flight time of their pollen and their allergy potential.
Fig. 2: Pollen calendar with flowering times of the most important allergenic plants; Source: MeteoNews in Anlehnung an MeteoSchweiz
It can be seen that the flowering of hazelnuts and alders often begins in the first half of January and is at its peak during February. In this respect, the development this year is quite normal. However, the development can also be abruptly halted if there are repeated cold setbacks. On the contrary, after some rain in the north on Thursday and thus the washing out of the pollen, there will be a longer-lasting phase of high pressure with above-average temperatures (for the weather development in the coming days, see here), so that the load of hazel and alder pollen will quickly increase again to moderate to high. In the south, it will remain dry on Thursday with quite sunny weather, so there will be no temporary decrease in pollen count here and it will therefore remain high in places. The current organic weather for your location can be found on our homepage (search for location, then click on organic weather). Here, for example, you can find the current pollen count for Zurich.
Tips for reducing the pollen count
Around 20% of people in Switzerland are affected by a pollen allergy, and the trend is rising. A few measures can help to reduce the pollen count and thus the symptoms. The following is a non-exhaustive overview of some of these precautions.
- Preventive medication using antihistamines, which are available from pharmacies as nasal sprays, eye drops or tablets.
- To relieve symptoms, rinse pollen out of the nose (nasal showers), treat red, itchy eyes with cold compresses or a damp washcloth.
- On days of high pollen count, spend as little time as possible outdoors.
- Change clothes after spending time outdoors (not in the bedroom area).
- Do not dry laundry outdoors.
- Install pollen screens in front of the windows.
- Wash your hair in the evening or brush it out thoroughly so that the pollen is not spread on the pillow.
- Wear sunglasses (ideally with side shields). They keep the pollen away from the eyes and protect their mucous membranes, which are particularly sensitive to light during the pollen season.
- A protective mask is recommended on pollen-intensive days.
- Vacuum floors, upholstered furniture and carpets thoroughly on a regular basis. We recommend vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters, which also remove tiny suspended particles from the air.
- Set up an air purifier. These devices filter pollen and dust out of the air and can provide relief.
- Regularly maintain and replace pollen filters in the car.
Increasing problems with pollen in the future
Pollen will cause more and more problems in the future. The pollen season is getting longer and longer, it starts earlier and lasts longer and longer in the fall due to immigrant plants such as ragweed. Allergy sufferers therefore have an ever shorter rest period. Due to climate change and the resulting higher average temperatures, many plants are also producing more pollen. At the same time, the more frequent periods of drought mean extreme stress for the plants. After such years, they sometimes produce huge amounts of pollen, which leads to more allergies. In addition, the pollen often becomes more aggressive as a result of climate change. Under stress, plants ramp up their immune system and produce special proteins to protect them from negative environmental influences. People with a pollen allergy react particularly strongly to these proteins. Truly not a rosy outlook for pollen allergy sufferers...
The content of this article has been at least partially computer translated from another language. Therefore, grammatical errors or inaccuracies are possible. Please note that the original language version of the article should be considered authoritative.