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Pollen allergy hits Islamabad residents

* Official says 80-110 patients visiting PIMS daily
* Hospital deputes extra staff in Emergency Department, installs 25 nebulizers
* Pollen season likely to be slightly short but intense
* Pollen count goes over 26,705 cubic meters
* G-6 would be affected first followed by F-6, F-7 and other sectors

ISLAMABAD: With the advent of spring season in the federal capital, the number of pollen allergy patients has witnessed a significant increase at the city hospitals and clinics. Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has expedited its efforts against the disease by setting up nebulizers to treat the patients.

According to a PIMS official, the current pollen patterns indicated that paper mulberry was likely to start shedding pollens around mid of this month. He said the rainy spell delayed the paper mulberry pollen. He said the pollen allergy patients who were used to suffer from this disease from mid to end of March, may face a shorter, but slightly intense pollen season this year. He said it now required two to five days of sunshine for the mulberries to start flowering.

PIMS sources said 80-110 pollen allergy patients were visiting the hospital for nebulization and oxygen. “Taking special steps, the PIMS administration has deputed 10 extra staff members in Emergency Department and has installed over 25 nebulizers at different places of the hospital so that as soon as a patient enters the hospital premises, he/she could be treated immediately,” the official said.

Spokesman for PIMS, Dr Waseem Khawaja requested the pollen allergy patients, who are under 13, to come to Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) first and if OPD timings were over, they should go to the Emergency Department. He said in this way the rush of patients would be avoided and doctors would be able to treat every patient individually.

He said the pollen allergy symptoms included sneezing and runny nose, itching and watering of eyes, coughing, difficulty in breathing, wheezing and eventually attacks of asthma. In addition, there may be itching on the skin and sometimes gastro-intestinal symptoms, he added.

Khawaja said during periods of high pollen concentration in the air, 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. He added any of these could aggravate the pollen allergy. He said complications might occur if pollen allergy was not treated timely.

The PIMS spokesman said people with seasonal allergies who could not avoid pollen, the disease can be controlled through medication on advise of physician.

Precautionary measures: Talking about precautionary measures, Khawaja said pollen allergy patients must avoid eating spicy food. “No use of perfumes, avoid walking in garden, wear face mask, use wet cloth for dusting, avoid using carpets on the floor, do not open the window of car, use vacuum cleaner instead of broom, use sun glasses in outdoor, and apply fresh water in eyes and nose and avoid using hot water,” he said.

PMD: According to Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the atmospheric concentration of pollens of pines, grasses and cannabis was in high category in the federal capital. The PMD advised the individuals sensitive to pollens to take precautionary measures. “The trend in allergic pollen will change and the concentration of paper mulberry pollen will also increase and dominate the other allergic pollen after mid of March,” Abdul Sattar, the Met Office official said.

He said as soon as the pollen count increased 15,000 cubic meters in the air, patients started suffering severely. “On Saturday the pollen count was over 26,705 cubic meters that is too high for any allergy patient and they must consult physician as soon as possible,” he said.

According to health experts, the first affected sectors would be G-6, followed by F-6, F-7 and G-7 and then the other sectors of the capital.

Bhara Kahu and Bani Gala, which were previously unaffected by paper mulberry pollen allergy, have now developed enough paper mulberry trees to start causing allergy. This has been due to the irresponsible construction work carried out in the area, in which residents cleared larger areas of land of their natural foliage and vegetation than they needed for construction.

According to an estimate of Health Ministry, about 120,000 residents of the federal capital are the victims of this disease, which in some cases has become fatal.

Since early 1990s, pollen allergy has become one of the gravest health problems of the city as every year hundreds of people visit hospitals or clinics for treatment against the disease.

Some experts hold paper mulberry tree as solely responsible for the disease, while others associate multiple environmental pollutants such as dust and smoke emissions.

According to a study conducted by National Institute of Health (NIH), during 1983-1993 as much as 15 percent of the population in the industrialised countries suffered from allergies.

Pollen allergy hits Islamabad residents
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Pollen allergy hits Islamabad residents
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