Pollen Counts and Symptoms

Trees tend to trigger allergic reactions of patient with asthma and allergic rhino-conjunctivitis in early spring while grass contribution is mostly visible during late spring and early summer; weeds can trigger symptoms from spring to fall. Each plant pollinates at approximately the same time each year. However, during the last decades, a significant trend for earlier flowering in many species on the Northern hemisphere has been observed (Menzel et al. 2006). Weather conditions strongly affect concentration of pollen in the air and therefore the prevalence of allergic symptoms. The airborne pollen quantification is a fundamental piece of information for validation and interpretation of scientific clinical trials for the efficiency of medication in pollen related-diseases. It is possible to significantly improve the treatment and its efficiency by using the quantitative pollen information as one of the guidelines. The specific roles of aerobiological observations and modelling as the sources of this information can be summarized in the following main items:

• For health-care authorities, planning protective measures against pollen-related diseases

• For allergists, who must be aware of pollen situation in order to educate their patients

• For patients, planning and adapting their medication before and during the pollen season, planning their holidays, physical training, traveling, education and career, as well as domestic habits, such as garden and plants in the house

• For pharmacists, preparatory measures for coming pollen season and for being able to give information and advises to their customers

• For medical industry, planning the manufacturing capacities of medications

• For allergists and medical scientists, in the clinical trials, for selecting the allergen extracts for diagnosis and treatment, and for evaluating the effects of the treatment.

• For schools and universities, planning the schedule for examinations

• For hospitals and emergency rooms, preparing to outbreaks of acute exacerbations of allergic diseases in case of upcoming episodes of heavy pollen loads

• For allergists, when treating patients with immunotherapy, when information about the ambient allergen load is necessary

A wish-list from health-care professionals to aerobiologists and meteorologists would then include:

• Detailed timing of pollen season in different regions (patients live in a certain area and the more local the pollen-related information is the better it is for the patient).

• Estimated duration of individual pollen (trees, grasses, weeds) seasons.

• Estimated strength of the season and expected pollen counts.

• Timely warnings about major changes in pollen counts.

• Easy access to global pollen information with the native language of the patient. This is crucial to allergic people when planning their activity and traveling.

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