The rain forecast for the next few hours could offer a respite to the millions of Italians suffering from spring allergy. The long drought, added to the early flowering due to the warm winter, with pollen from cypresses, birches and hazelnuts already in circulation since December, is putting a strain on the patience of allergy sufferers who already have to face the early proliferation of annoying ones since March plant granules grasses and of urticaceae.
The grasses – more than twenty types of plants – present everywhere in Italy, include herbaceous plants, annual or perennial, with flowers gathered in spikes or terminal panicles, kinds of spontaneous and cultivated plants (cereals), sometimes weeds. The pollination period of grasses generally begins in April and reaches its maximum intensity in the month of May and then decrease. A resumption of flowering, less intense than in spring, usually occurs between late summer and early autumn and justifies a mild resumption of symptoms in some subjects affected by this
Symptoms of grass allergy are common to respiratory allergies: runny and stuffy nose, sneezing, wheezing, itchy, watery eyes, and inflamed eyelids. The symptoms of “hay cold” and breathing could therefore be easily confused with those of the Omicron variant of Covid which affects the respiratory tract, especially by those who are struggling with allergies for the first time. But even long-time allergy sufferers some doubt can feed it, given the high contagiousness of Omicron 1 and 2.
How to distinguish them from Covid and influence
Beyond the sensation of itching and inflammation, the big difference from a simple cold is that, in case of allergy to grasses, the nasal secretion is liquid like water, in fact, we speak of serous rhinorrhea. The allergic cold due to grasses is accompanied by symptoms in the eyes that become red, watery, itchy, often it can also be associated with itching in the ears or throat.
The most common manifestations of respiratory allergy are allergic rhinitis and, in severe cases, allergic asthma. Allergic rhinitis commonly known as hay fever, it is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and of the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes. Allergic rhinitis, with or without conjunctivitis, affects 5% to 50% of the population worldwide and 15-20% of these people suffer from a severe form of allergy.
It is estimated that one in three people with grass allergic rhinitis also have allergic asthma, a chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract, which causes symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and wheezing and can have different levels of severity: it can occur only in spring, or at all times of the year. A disorder not to be underestimated.
“Most patients become symptomatic of grass allergy in later childhood ie between 11 and 17 years“declares Samuele Burastero, allergist researcher at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan” but a symptomatic allergy can also develop for the first time in adulthood up to 40 years of age and beyond. The frequency is equivalent between males and females without a particular distinction, while the heredity for this type of allergy is accentuated compared to other allergens: those who are allergic to grasses tend to have children with the same allergy “
Antihistamine drugs on sale in pharmacies even without a doctor’s prescription can reduce the symptoms of allergies and those of the latest generation no longer cause the typical side effect of drowsiness. The alternative is represented by Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (AIT), commonly called a vaccine, the only treatment capable of acting on the causes of the allergy and not just the symptoms, and represents an important therapeutic option for patients, especially those who do not experience sufficient relief of symptoms from symptomatic treatment. Therapy is at the center of the information campaign «Eccì Graminacee», sponsored by Breathe Together, and conveyed via Facebook and Instagram. Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (AIT) consists in administering to the allergic person, for a period of not less than 3 and up to 5 years, an increasing and controlled dose of extracts of the allergen to which he is sensitive. AIT is a treatment capable of inducing a change in the allergic patient’s immune system up to complete desensitization to the allergen. At the end of this cycle, the AIT provides protection for a phase that can go beyond 10 years.