Allergy cases increase in children due to climate change

The increase of the generalized temperature in all the seasons, due to the climatic change has increased the cases of allergy to the pollen in smaller and smaller children, according to has alerted the Spanish Society of Clinical Immunology, Allergology and Pediatric Asthma (SEICAP).

The cause is the rise in average temperatures, which lengthens the pollination seasons and intensifies them, which is causing an increase in the predisposition to suffer allergies in children that are getting smaller and smaller.

World Allergy Week: pollen and climate change

On the occasion of the celebration of the World Week of Allergy that this year is celebrated from April 4 to 10, the Working Group of Respiratory Allergy of the SEICAP wants to pay special attention to the group of allergies caused by pollen and climate change , and for this it offers a list of tips to start a treatment.

The pollinosis or pollen allergy manifests itself in the form of rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma, "because of the exaggerated reaction of the mucosa of the respiratory tract to the contact or inhalation of pollen," says Dr. Javier Torres, coordinator of the Group of Respiratory Allergy Work of the SEICAP. The most frequent symptoms are nasal, ocular, pharyngeal pruritus, on the palate; tearing sneezing secretion and nasal obstruction; cough or bronchial obstruction.

The treatment can be symptomatic with antihistamines or inhaled bronchodilators or anti-inflammatory when there is inflammation of the nasal or bronchial mucosa. "That is why it is convenient to use corticosteroids in a preventive way from the beginning of spring until the end," Dr. Torres points out. These drugs only treat the symptoms, "so they must be combined with specific immunotherapy by vaccines that contain proteins from pollen and whose function is to immunize the child so that they need less medication, it is the only cure," he adds. To obtain the best results, and to be done in a personalized way for each specific case, "it is essential that children with spring allergy symptoms are treated by pediatric allergists," he adds.

Pollen allergy and global warming

A Spanish study published in March in the magazine Environmental Monitoring and Assessment concludes that the highest concentrations of pollen are recorded between February and June, which is why they are the most critical months for allergic people. "In fact, it is at this time when the visits to the emergency room for children due to an asthma crisis increase," emphasizes Dr. Javier Torres, coordinator of the Respiratory Allergy Work Group of the SEICAP. One in five children between 13 and 14 years old worldwide suffer pollen allergy, according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Children (ISAAC). "However, there are more and more cases of positive tests with only three years," he stresses.

The warming of the earth's surface "is responsible for the increase in the density of plant species in some areas, the amount of pollen produced by each and the lengthening of the pollination season," says Dr. Torres. Thus, during the spring, pollinate the majority of plants that produce allergy. However, "due to climate change many advance or even extend it during the summer," he says. A recent Australian research published in Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology confirms that the rise of temperatures, precipitation and more extreme weather allow for longer pollination seasons, which results in greater exposure of these allergens.

Pollution and increased allergies

A review of studies published in December in the journal Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine emphasizes that urbanization, high levels of vehicle emissions and westernized lifestyle are related to a higher frequency of respiratory allergy, especially in people living in urban areas. "There are a number of multifactorial causes, such asl climate change, new lifestyles, excessive hygiene, that are causing, not only an increase in childhood allergies to pollen, but in general. In fact, it is significant the increase of those caused by food, or rhinitis and asthma, "warns Dr. Torres According to data from the SEICAP, allergic rhinitis affects one in three children, while asthma suffer one of every ten.

Another factor to consider is the contamination from the combustion of diesel, which worsens the symptoms of children with allergic rhinitis or asthma. "It multiplies the irritation of the airways and favors its inflammation, potentiate the allergenic action of the pollens and facilitate the accumulation of mucus," he says.

Advice for children allergic to pollen

The Respiratory Allergy Working Group of the Spanish Society of Clinical Immunology, Allergology and Pediatric Asthma has developed the following Decalogue of Advice for children allergic to pollen:

1. It is not advisable to go to the field, parks, gardens or places with abundant vegetation, between the months of March to May. Areas with grass should be avoided, especially if it is freshly cut.

2. It is recommended to protect the windows or balconies, especially the bedroom of the child, with a very thick lattice of plastic material (mosquito net), which should be cleaned daily with a damp cloth, without shaking.

3. Keep the windows closed or balconies of the minor's bedroom as long as possible, especially at night, when the concentration of atmospheric pollen increases.

4. Two hours before bedtime, with the windows closed, spray water, towards the ceiling, leaving the room closed until bedtime. With this, the pollen that floats in the air is sedimented.

5. On the outside, protect the eyes as much as possible with sunglasses in case of seasonal conjunctivitis, and approved antipolen masks.

6. If traveling by car, keep the windows closed. Check that the anti-pollen filters are in good condition.

7. Remove elements that may accumulate dust or pollen (stuffed animals, carpets, curtains or others). Do the cleaning of the house without shaking, with vacuum cleaner or damp cloth.

8. Consult (press, television, internet) data on pollination. Take precautions when there are more than 50 grains of pollen per cubic millimeter of air, since from that amount can produce symptoms.

9. It is advisable that the child always carries bronchodilators in his backpack during the time of greatest risk. or antihistamines if you have allergy symptoms.

10. Go to the allergist pediatrician in case of persistence of symptoms so that you can make a correct diagnosis and assess the need to perform a personalized treatment with immunotherapy.

Rocío Jiménez
Advice: Doctor Javier Torres. Respiratory Allergy Work Group of the SEICAP

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