GE-R-3: Information on pollen

The picture shows two grass plants in full bloom and secreting a cloud of grass pollen.Click to enlarge
The forecasts provided by the pollen exposure risk index enables allergy sufferers to take targeted.
Source: Photograph: © Jürgen Kottmann/stock.adobe.com

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents

 

GE-R-3: Information on pollen

There is a notable increase in the use of available information contained in the pollen exposure risk index and the service of the pollen diary or smartphone apps by individuals helping them to understand their own hayfever symptoms. The amount of newsletters distributed and also the use of the services offered by the PID and Techniker Krankenkasse
are increasing significantly.

The line graph represents the number of subscribers to the Pollen Danger Index and users of the Pollen Diary. Both graphs are significantly increasing. The users of the pollen diary have increased exponentially, especially after 2015.
GE-R-3: Information on pollen

The line graph represents the number of subscribers to the Pollen Danger Index and users of the Pollen Diary. Both graphs are significantly increasing. The users of the pollen diary have increased exponentially, especially after 2015.

Source: DWD (pollen exposure risk index); PID (pollen diary)
 

People with pollen allergies need information

‘Hay fever’ is the colloquial, as well as trivialising term for a condition which is induced largely by allergenic pollen. However, hay fever is by no means harmless; it can be accompanied by major losses in quality of life and serious health impairments. Especially in cases where the allergic inflammation of nose and eyes extends to the bronchia, this can lead to chronic breathing difficulties and irreversible restructuring processes in the bronchia and lungs. One in three hay-fever sufferers will develop, in the course of their life, asthma that is related to the pollen season but which can later become asthma that prevails all-year round.

Coming into contact with allergenic pollen in the environment is in many cases unavoidable or difficult to control. It is therefore absolutely essential to give patients a chance to better understand the nature of their condition and of any underlying causes thus enabling them to develop avoidance strategies. The following applies: the more allergy sufferers understand their condition, the less they suffer.

To provide allergy sufferers with better information, the DWD jointly with the Stiftung Deutscher Polleninformationsdienst e. V. (PID/German foundation for pollen information services) publish, as and when required, a pollen exposure risk index. During the season when pollen is airborne, this index regarding the intensity of exposure to the eight allergologically most important types of pollen (hazel, alder, ash, birch, sweet grasses, rye, mugwort and ragweed) expected for the current and the next day. The high degree of actuality of these forecasts enables people who suffer from pollen allergies to arrange for targeted prophylactic actions in terms of adapting their behaviour and obtaining appropriate medication.

Information on the current and predictable exposure risks can be downloaded direct from the internet. Alternatively it is possible to subscribe to a newsletter which provides subscribers with a direct warning in case of exposure risks. Further information on the subject of allergies is provided via an online portal operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum München for the prevention and treatment of allergies (www.allergieinformationsdienst.de).

In addition to the pollen exposure risk index, the PID has since 2009 been developing further services offered for the support of allergy sufferers. They started by offering the online pollen diary which enables people with hayfever to make connections between their current problems in eyes, nose and bronchia as well as their current medication, with the values of pollen activity in the location where they happened to be at any particular time (even if they were in another European country). The daily records entered into the internet-based pollen diary helps allergy sufferers to analyse, quickly and independently, the intensity of their condition and the degree of current exposure to air-borne pollen. In addition, the users of this diary are provided with an individual evaluation of their pollen season. The pollen diary can also serve a patient’s GP as a useful aid in making a diagnosis and planning a therapy. In line with technological advances, a pollen app (Pollen App 5.0) was developed for smartphones in 2013. This app makes it possible to record the individual symptoms and their severity, at the same time as providing individual forecasts regarding likely medical complaints for the subsequent two days.

Since 2015 the Techniker-Krankenkasse (a health insurance) in co-operation with the PID has offered an app entitled ‘Husteblume’ (a pun on a children’s name for the seed heads of dandelion). The contents of this app is identical with the Pollen App 5.0. The Husteblume, in addition to the general and individual pollen exposure forecast and recording of symptoms, also provides generic therapy tips. For the 2019 pollen season, the app was thoroughly revised and expanded by several new functions. The user numbers for the pollen diary contained in the two virtually identical apps (pollen app and Husteblume) have increased substantially in recent years. Almost 200,000 users are entering records regarding their medical complaints in nose, eyes and bronchia as well as records of whatever medication they are using. In view of the fact that the Pollen App 5.0 is used in five European languages, this opens up opportunities for scientific studies in terms of comparisons.

The increase in subscriber numbers noticed in recent years indicates a mounting interest in the pollen exposure risk index issued jointly by the DWD and PID and also in the services offered by the PID Techniker Krankenkasse (insurance company). So far there have been no systematic evaluations of the positive effects of the pollen exposure risk index or the pollen diary published by the PID including the smartphone app, regarding the quality of life of allergy sufferers. A survey on the ‘Husteblume’ app published by the Techniker Krankenkasse indicates however that 56% of users feel that they are now better informed about their allergy, while 34% state that they have been coping better with their allergy since using the app. 27% of users report that the app has improved their quality of life. Every eleventh user even states that their allergy has improved in general10.

10 - Husteblume – die Allergie-App der Techniker: www.tk.de/techniker/magazin/digitale-gesundheit/apps/husteblume-allergie-app-2025388

 

Interfaces

GE-I-3: Contamination with pollen of ragweed

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 Adaptation on climate change  KomPass  monitoring report  pollen information  Pollen  pollen warning service  PID  pollen danger index