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Experts warn of increasing pollen levels
In future, asthmatics and allergy sufferers will have to deal with increasingly aggressive pollen, especially in cities. According to a message from the news agency "dpa", experts warn against this on the occasion of today's World Asthma Day (May 2). As a result of global warming, the pollen season is increasingly longer and more intensive, which means that more and more people will suffer from allergies and bronchial asthma in the future.
Obama reports of aha experience
Shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and constant coughing: people with asthma and allergies know these symptoms only too well and many experience the symptoms more and more every year. As President of the United States, Barack Obama had already reported how an asthma attack of his then four-year-old daughter Malia caused terrible fears. "Papa, I can hardly breathe anymore", the child reported and had to be taken to the emergency room - the ex-president himself had had a kind of "eye-opening experience" in this situation in connection with climate change, it says Communication from the "dpa".
Improved plant growth through global warming
Experts in Germany are now warning of increasing levels of pollen on the occasion of World Asthma Day, which takes place today (May 2). From the experts' point of view, these are the first signs of global warming, because this has a positive effect on plant growth. “There is very clear data: the pollen season in Germany has already lengthened considerably in the past 30 years. But it has also become more intense, ”explains Torsten Zuberbier, head of the Berlin Charité Allergy Center, according to the“ dpa ”.
Shortness of breath and coughing are getting worse
Many allergy sufferers and asthmatics are already experiencing the first consequences of this development. "Patients tell us that their symptoms get worse every year," said Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, director of the Institute for Environmental Medicine at the Helmholtz Center Munich and the Technical University of Munich.
Pollen allergy and hay fever affect the upper respiratory tract, which can cause itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, allergic conjunctivitis and persistent runny nose.
In contrast, asthmatics have a chronic, inflammatory disease of the lower respiratory tract. Typical symptoms are constant coughing (especially at night), shortness of breath, shortness of breath and a whistling sound when exhaling.
Every tenth child under the age of 15 is affected
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, almost 15 percent of people aged 18 and over have hay fever in this country, and almost nine percent suffer from bronchial asthma. According to the pulmonary information service at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood and adolescence. About 10 percent of all children under the age of 15 are affected in Germany, with the disease in most cases (70%) before the age of 5 breaks out, according to the information.
Children therefore have a particularly high risk of respiratory diseases. "But what is also dramatic: We are now seeing an increase in eczema and allergies in older people over the age of 70," says Traidl-Hoffmann. Especially those who have never had anything to do with it would become increasingly allergic in old age, explains the expert.
Plants fertilized with CO2 on roads
But how can this development be explained? From the experts' point of view, a changed lifestyle (e.g. less exercise in the fresh air) leads to increased susceptibility. In addition, people are exposed to changing environmental conditions in the course of climate change. Finally, several factors would together ensure that the pollen has a stronger and more irritating effect than before.
"Pollen that is formed in the urban area near main roads is filled with diesel soot particles and is therefore indirectly more aggressive for the airways," says Torsten Zuberbier. This could also cause allergies more easily, the expert adds. Another factor is plants such as grasses and herbs, which grow on main roads, for example, and are exposed to a lot of CO2 there. Because this would literally "fertilize" with the gas and subsequently emit more pollen.
More severe complaints and more people affected
Studies like von Traidl-Hoffmann, who with her colleagues have exposed plants in greenhouses to expected conditions, show what this can mean for the future. “Plants release more allergens under drought stress, ozone, CO2 and nitrogen oxide pollution, which also leads to more symptoms. The plant also pours out all sensation-enhancing substances under these climatic stress conditions, ”according to the results of the research.
According to the experts, the climate changes for those suffering from hay fever and asthma could mean that they suffer from symptoms all year round. In addition, a further increase in pollen allergies can be expected.
According to experts, there could be a massive increase in those affected only by people who are allergic to ragwort (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). Scientists from European universities came to this result by extrapolating that the number of ambrosia allergy sufferers in Europe could more than double by 2060. It is therefore possible that up to 77 million people could be affected, whereby Germany will probably be one of the countries with the greatest growth, according to the experts in the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives". (No)