Everything you ever wanted to know about hay fever but were too stuffed up to ask

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

  • Pollen is released by different trees and plants throughout the year. In the Kanto region, for example, cedar trees are active from February through April, while Japanese cypress trees primarily release pollen in April and May. In June, pollen is released by orchardgrass, followed by mugwort and ragweed during autumn.
  • Scientists believe that high temperatures during summer cause more pollen to be released the following spring. Some experts say that global warming is behind the rising number of hay fever sufferers in recent years.
  • Sneezing and experiencing a runny nose at this time of year are often considered to be signs of allergy, but there is always a chance it may actually be a cold. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry also warns that it could be related to other diseases, such as empyema.
  • Children are not immune to hay fever. According to a survey conducted in 2002, 4.5 percent of those aged between 3 and 5 were allergic to pollen, while 10.5 percent of those aged between 6 and 9, and 12.1 percent of those aged between 10 and 12 were allergic. The health ministry believes that infantile hay fever is on the rise.
  • You are more likely to be allergic to pollen if another member of your family is allergic.
  • Wearing a mask can reduce a person’s pollen intake by more than 80 percent. Glasses, meanwhile, can reduce the amount of pollen that could irritate the eyes by more than 60 percent.
  • Bolstering a person’s immune system can also help alleviate symptoms, so it’s important to get a good night’s sleep and plenty of rest. Reducing alcohol consumption and smoking can help keep the mucous membrane healthy.
  • Some yogurt products claim to be effective in reducing pollen allergies, but to what extent remains unclear. “People in Bulgaria consume yogurt every day but some still suffer from pollen allergies,” the health ministry notes.
  • New advances are being made in treatment every year. The health ministry is examining technology that uses new antibodies to fight allergies, as well as medicine that can control intercellular communication.

Compiled from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry