The allergy season is now officially under way, meaning suffering and discomfort for around 15% of the population and as many as 30% of young people.
The Southern regions and provinces of Spain have particularly high pollen counts, and the highest allergy rates in Spain, due to the dry climate plants which grow here and the constant all year round heat.
Warm weather means that the pollen allergy season is starting even earlier this year, and more and more people are being afflicted by the symptoms. On top of this, it is being forecast that this year’s epidemic will be worse than usual on account of the extremely dry winter and the windy conditions which have prevailed over much of the first nine weeks of the year.
As a result, a good number of people will be suffering from itchy skin and eyes, coughing, sneezing and congestion, with occasional more severe symptoms affecting asthma sufferers. In March the main culprits tend to be cypresses, olive trees and plane trees, and in southern coastal regions local grasses and Chenopodioideae are likely to cause discomfort from now until June.
Medical centres in southern Spain are well used to dealing with allergies, so if you’re at all concerned, visit a doctor, as there are preventative treatments available for known sufferers. Many expats fail to realize that they are suffering from allergies when first moving to Spain as it’s often not apparent that plants such as Cyprus trees and olives are even in flower.
It’s also well worth reading the basic advice given by the regional authorities reproduced below if you are prone to allergies, simple measures such as not hanging sheets on the line during olive flowering periods really can make a difference to extreme sufferers.
The main culprits:
Although an essential part of any Mediterranean environment, the tiny, almost invisible flowers on Olives have a particularly potent pollen count which causes a lot of problems for allergy sufferers, and is something that many ex-pats will not be aware of when planting gardens in Spain, so if you do suffer from allergies, avoid olives, they’re one of the worst plants to have around the house if you do have a bad allergy problem.
During October, November and part of December when the winter rains fall, members of the Ragweed family, which is a large family of 180 genus of herbaceous plants and shrubs have a strong presence, a single ragweed plant having the capability to produce a billion grains of pollen per season and grains able to travel more than 400km on the wind. The common ragweed found in the region has a yellow daisy-like flower and is prolific on dry scrubland.
In December the Cupressaceae ( cypress and cedar trees) come into flower, and remain one of the main cause of hayfever and allergies throughout January and February. There are many of these in the region as it is the most common form of hedging here, although many may not realise that the plants are actually in flower as the “flowers” are not instantly recognisable as such, appearing as a lighter coloured growth on the end of the branches
In March and April grass pollens are the main culprits, cereal crops falling into this category, widely grown on the plains of the Altiplano in the north of the region, followed in May and June by the worst culprits, Olive Trees.
Again, many are unaware that the olive trees are in flower , as the actual blossom is tiny and barely noticeable, but emits powerful concentrations of pollen, causing a great deal of problems for many people
Anyone who is prone to hay fever, asthma or allergies is advised to be prepared, and the following preventative advice is offered:
Keep windows closed at all times during times of concentration to prevent pollen from drifting into your home.
Use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air
Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Keep your car windows closed when traveling
Take a shower after spending time outside – pollen can collect on your hair and skin
Don’t hang sheets or clothing outside to dry during peak pollen seasons: Pollens can collect on them
Minimize exposure to other known allergens during peak seasons, since symptoms are the result of a cumulative effect of multiple allergens and non-allergic triggers
Get up-to-date pollen information about your area.
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