Allergic rhinitis - a disease of the immune system

Up to 2 million people in Switzerland suffer from allergic rhinitis [1]. Almost 20% are affected by a pollen allergy [2]. In spring, pollen from birch trees, alders and hazel bushes are active, followed by grasses in May, June and July and herbs in late summer. In addition, there are more than 500,000 people with asthma [3], whereby house dust mites, pets, but also the inhalation of chemical substances at the workplace can be possible allergy triggers.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis

This is most likely to manifest itself as a hypersensitivity reaction of the nasal mucosa: Tingling, sneezing attacks, watery eyes, coughing irritation, general feeling of illness - conclusion: I have "hay fever". This is because those affected react hypersensitively to allergens in the air that we breathe in with pollen flying around from trees, grasses, herbs - with different origins depending on the season, and also subjectively with different intensities of symptoms.
And not infrequently, so-called cross-allergies are observed, because e.g. 70% of birch pollen allergy sufferers can develop an allergy in connection with food (certain types of fruit and vegetables, nuts).

All-season allergic rhinitis

Regardless of tree, grass or herb pollen, house dust mites can trigger allergic reactions in the respiratory tract or on the skin.

The house dust mite is found as an essential component in, as the name suggests, house dust, preferably where people are comfortable: in bed.

It is primarily the faeces of the animals in which the main allergen is found. Complete elimination of the small, spider-like animals is not possible, even with the greatest possible observance of hygienic measures.
Pets can also trigger allergies. The good news is that the symptoms are less acute compared to pollen allergies.
The most common allergic reactions are caused by cats and dogs, but rodents, pet birds or reptiles are also listed as allergens via their sebaceous, salivary and anal glands.
In this context, dry food should also be mentioned, which can cause allergic respiratory reactions, especially due to the ingredients.


Symptoms such as runny nose, restricted nasal breathing, sneezing attacks and itching for several hours lead the affected person first to the family doctor (if necessary), to the ENT doctor and to the allergologist for further diagnostics. The specialist analyses the symptoms and initiates the necessary therapeutic steps. This includes component-specific diagnostics with skin and laboratory tests. According to the results, the specialist advises and recommends an appropriate and, above all, individually adapted therapy to the patient.

Due to the variety of triggering factors and individually manifested symptoms, no generalised therapy suggestions and treatment options can be recommended at this point.

In any case, the aim should be to desensitise the person affected and, in addition, to alleviate the symptoms and free them from the discomfort in the long term.

[1],[2],[3]:Ballmer-Weber,B., Helbling,A. (2017).Swiss Medical Forum-Swiss Medical Forum 2017;17 (8):179-186.

Pollen count - possible allergic consequences and therapies

You probably know it: everyone goes outside, enjoys the first warm rays of the spring sun - and you? You prefer to stay indoors. Because the spring air not only brings pleasant things, but for fellow human beings who are sensitive to pollen and allergies, it brings pollen that settles on the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes and respiratory tract. The body reacts to these "intruders" via systemic processes (sensitisation, release of histamine, dilation of the blood vessels) with sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, breathing problems. And this, depending on the subjective allergic disposition, over a longer period of time, because the pollen season lasts from about February to about October.

First of all, you should have a specialist clarify what your body is allergic to. This is done first by taking a detailed medical history and then by a skin and blood test. This will also show whether it is "only" a pollen allergy or also a cross-reaction with certain foods. Afterwards, a decision has to be made as to which therapy can be applied for the affected person.

Both medications with active ingredients such as antihistamine and cortisone (usually as tablets, sprays, drops) and immunotherapy (desensitisation) by injecting the allergy-causing substance can be used in the treatment. Herbal remedies, rinses with a special salt solution or acupuncture treatments are also described in the literature as possible treatment methods.

Those affected can also help to alleviate the symptoms themselves by following simple behavioural patterns: a pollen calendar or pollen app is helpful to see the type and intensity of exposure to pollen. If you feel an increase in symptoms, you should spend little time outdoors, take off the clothes you are wearing outside the bedroom and wash your hair in the evening.


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