With the first sign of flowering of plants in the wild, the more sensitive allergy patients have already started seeking medical help. In the past two days 31 such patients came to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital, mostly from Islamabad and its environs.
A hospital spokesman announced on Thursday that the hospital had stocked needed medicines, and installed 120 nebulization points in its emergency ward, to ease the life of citizens suffering from pollen allergy. Nebulization is a technique of administering medication by spraying it into the respiratory tract.
Also the usual registration fee for emergency check-up has been waived for allergy patients, he said. Doctors and nursing staff will be increased in the emergency department as the rush of allergy patients increases.
Most of the allergy patients need nebulization in emergency to ease their breathing. Fifty per cent of the pollen allergy patients reporting at the Out Patients Department have symptoms resembling flu while 99 per cent of those with breathing difficulty report to emergency department.
Adults with mild symptoms have been advised by PIMS to report to the filter clinic of the out patient department and those with severe breathing problem to the emergency department. Both the medical facilities would be available round the clock. Chest specialists would treat them.
Child patients should be taken to the same departments in the children hospital attached to Pims. If the child's condition is found critical he/she would be transferred to a ventilator in the intensive care unit, said the spokesman.
To avoid the allergenic pollen, a patient is better advised to shift to a place where the offending plant does not grow and where its pollen is not present in the air.
Some patients sensibly take their vacations at the height of the expected pollinating period and choose a location where such exposure would be minimal. The seashore may be an effective retreat for many with pollen allergies.
However, even this extreme solution may offer only temporary relief since a person who is sensitive to one specific weed, tree, or grass pollen may often develop allergies to others after repeated exposure.
Some allergy specialists, therefore, discourage the patient's relocation.
There are other ways to evade the offending pollen: remain indoors in the morning, when the outdoor pollen levels are highest. Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome. If persons with pollen allergy must work outdoors, they can wear face masks designed to filter pollen out of the air reaching their nasal passages.
Use of air conditioners inside the home or in a car can be quite helpful in reducing pollen levels. Also effective are various types of air-filtering devices made with fibreglass or electrically charged plates. These can be added to the heating and cooling systems in the home.
In addition, there are portable devices that can be used in individual rooms.
During periods of high pollen levels, people with pollen allergy should try to avoid unnecessary exposure to irritants such as dust, insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and fresh tar or paint. Any of these can aggravate the symptoms of pollen allergy.
For the people with seasonal allergies who find they cannot avoid pollen, the disease can often be controlled with medication available by prescription or over the counter.
Effective medications that can be prescribed by a physician include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and cromolyn sodium - any of which can be used alone or in combination. There are many effective antihistamines and decongestants that are available without a prescription.
Allergic symptoms are annoying and, in severe cases, debilitating. As a rule, however, an allergy to pollen does not progress to serious pulmonary or other diseases.
Occasionally, when pollen allergy is not treated, complications may occur. These include swelling of the nasal passages and eustachian tubes leading to the ears, which may prevent proper drainage and airflow, Dawn newspaper reports.