The nice weather has arrived in Marbella and with it the desire to enjoy the outdoors, even more so this spring when it seems that COVID restrictions are being relaxed and we can finally dispose of face masks. However, even though this is a season enjoyed by so many, it can become a real ordeal for some, as the desire to be outside clashes with the annoying symptoms produced by hay fever, forcing some of us to stay indoors.
Dr. Vicente Albendiz, Allergology Specialist at HC Marbella Hospital, answers all your hay fever questions.
What is hay fever?
When spring arrives, a large number of trees and plants begin to bloom and start to produce pollen. Pollen is made up of tiny particles that float in the air which we inhale constantly during the spring months. For most people this is not a problem, but for some their immune system overreacts when they come into contact with these allergens, causing known and uncomfortable allergy symptoms.
How do we know if it’s an allergy or a cold?
Allergy symptoms begin with an itchy nose, itchy eyes, continuous sneezing and nasal congestion (rhinitis), in more advanced cases shortness of breath, wheezing or a dry cough may develop. Often these symptoms can be confused with other common conditions such as a simple cold, however, unlike a cold allergies do not cause a fever.
Dr Albendiz recommends that as soon as the first symptoms start to appear, you should ideally visit an Allergology Specialist for diagnostic testing to confirm whether you are suffering from an allergy and if so which allergens are causing the symptoms.
Many people are concerned that these diagnostic tests are very complex, with the Allergologist testing different allergens until the one responsible for the reaction is found.
Dr. Albendiz explains that this method has now been simplified considerably, as allergens in each region do not vary greatly and do not change much. There are prepared standardised groups of tests to try to find the allergy, these groups of tests contain around 90% of the allergens common to the area.
When the patient comes for a consultation, they undergo a full examination followed by a test known as a prick test. Prick tests involve introducing a minimum amount of allergen into the outer layer of the skin. After about 15 minutes there is a small reaction that manifests as the appearance of a small lump or redness indicating whether this substance causes an allergic reaction, if nothing appears then the particulars allergen is not the cause.
Once the allergens producing uncomfortable symptoms have been determined, the specialist will recommend measures to alleviate them. Although most symptoms are not severe, they can significantly affect the patient’s quality of life.
Make an appointment to see your specialist to put an end to your allergies and enjoy the spring time.