Year after year ... what is the best remedy for pollen allergies?

If you suffer from hay fever or asthma brought on by an allergy, you should take preventative measures early on – and see a doctor if you develop a cough.

Dr. med. Barbara Oberholzer

05. March 2024

Sneezing woman
They return every year. That is why it makes sense to be prepared and to have the appropriate medication to hand. (Photo: Pexels)

What can you do if your eyes start itching? When should you ventilate your home? Read on for Dr Barbara Oberholzer’s answers to nine questions and tips for immediate relief. 
1. What non-medicinal treatments are useful? 
The most important thing is to avoid the substance that triggers your allergy, in other words the allergen. If you are allergic to pollen, for example, it is better to avoid outdoor activities when the pollen count is high. It is also advisable not to dry laundry outdoors or hang it outside to air during this period. 
2. What can you do to prevent the onset of asthma? 
Desensitisation (allergen immunotherapy) may help. Patients are regularly injected with tiny doses of the substance to which they are allergic over a longer period of time or these are administered as drops under the tongue. This enables the immune system to become accustomed to the allergens. If you wish to undergo desensitisation, you need to start thinking about it in autumn. 
3. When can I ventilate my home? 
It is best to ventilate your home directly after it rains because the pollen count will be lower. If it doesn’t rain: keep the windows closed during the day and only ventilate intensively by opening them wide for a few minutes – preferably in the morning or evening when the pollen count is lower. The lowest concentration of pollen and therefore the best time to ventilate is between 6 and 8 a.m. in the city and between 7 p.m. and midnight in rural areas. 
4. What can you do if your eyes are itchy? 
Pollen clings to your eyelashes. That is why it is a mistake to rub your eyes, as this allows the pollen to get onto the conjunctiva, which will make things even worse. It is better to close your eyes and gently wipe your eyelids from the inner corner outwards. 
5. What works to relieve swollen, puffy eyes? 
If your eyes are already sore and irritated, using cooling pads and anti-allergic eye drops can help. In severe cases, symptoms can be alleviated using eye drops containing cortisone. However, these should only be used for very short periods (one to two days) when prescribed by a doctor, because they can damage the eyes if they are used over a prolonged period. 
6. When do you need to see a specialist if you have an allergy? 
You should see a doctor if you develop a cough. An allergy to pollen is often accompanied by allergic asthma. And those affected frequently do not even realise how severely asthma restricts their daily life. Simply doing less sport during this period is not a good solution. Firstly, asthma harms the lungs and the body. Secondly, sudden severe asthma attacks may occur – typically at night – which are potentially dangerous. Antihistamine tablets that are effective against hay fever are not enough to treat asthma. 
7. How harmful are sprays that contain cortisone? 
If you use them as prescribed by your doctor, there is no need to be concerned about using them. The active ingredients they contain have a chemical make-up that is related to the body’s own stress hormone cortisol. When used correctly, they are very effective. The only way to relieve the inflammation in the lungs caused by an allergy is by using a cortisone inhaler. However, it is important that you are shown how to use it correctly. 
8. What benefits do allergy tests have? 
It is both important and useful to carry out an allergy test if you suffer from severe allergies and if you are planning to undergo immunotherapy. If you suffer from mild hay fever, you can usually find out if you are allergic to early windborne tree pollen or the grass pollen that emerges later by observing your symptoms and consulting your doctor. You may need to take necessary precautions during this time. 
9. What do people often forget about allergies? 
They return every year. That is why it makes good sense to be prepared and to have the appropriate medication to hand in case you need it. You should also be aware of what are known as cross-allergies. Most people who are allergic to pollen are also allergic to certain foods. Birch, alder and hazel pollen allergy sufferers, for example, may develop a cross-allergy to apples, carrots or other fruits and vegetables.

The Compassana app also accompanies and supports patients with asthma – as well as healthy people who want better orientation in the healthcare system: How should I take my medication? Where am I on my treatment journey? Which costs are covered by my health insurance? How do I quickly find the relevant people to contact? Often, the answers to these questions aren't that complicated, at least not with Compassana app. 

This article first appeared on iMpuls. Migros' health initiative and opens the door to the world of healthy eating, exercise, relaxation, mental well-being and medicine. iMpuls is close to everyday life and inspires a healthy lifestyle with tips, advice, recipes and expert knowledge.