Air purifier against pollen allergy: interview with experts, advice, information

Red eyes, runny nose, dry throat – what many consider a summer cold is very common: pollen allergy. Reactions are also similar with dust mites and their droppings. The devastating part: Without prompt treatment, things get worse, in every way. Manufacturers claim that air purifiers are designed to help create clean air. But what’s the point? Are air purifiers health promoters or are they more of a marketing ploy in the spirit of the times of being overly careful about keeping things clean? IMTEST interviewed a pollen allergy expert, dared an allergy test and tested the efficiency of air purifiers. It came out.

Air purifier against pollen allergy: this is what the expert says

For Uwe Berger, the topic of pollen allergies is anything but about sensitivity. As head of the research group “Aerobiology and Pollen Information” and of the “Austrian Pollen Warning Service” he deals full-time with the causes and effects of widespread allergy. He answered the questions for IMTEST in an interview.

IMMEDIATE TEST: Everyone is familiar with sniffing, sniffing, and sneezing when pollen season begins in spring. On the one hand, the topic of pollen allergies is widespread. On the other hand, many sufferers simply seem to accept it. Is pollen allergy underestimated?

Uwe Berger: Yes, pollen allergy is actually still underestimated as a disease. Especially the older generations of those affected often minimize the symptoms. Even with children, it is quickly dismissed as a summer chill. This is fatal. Because what starts with mildly sore eyes and a little sniffing for a few days a year can turn into strong reactions that last for several months or most of the year. Reacting in time can prevent this. But you need to recognize the allergy and take it seriously.

IMMEDIATE TEST: Sore eyes and mucous membranes are typical reactions that many of those affected are familiar with. But are there also consequences and how serious are they for adults and children?

Uwe Berger: It is important to understand that if left untreated it will not be just a simple “summer cold”. Rather, a chain reaction occurs. It starts with the symptoms mentioned, develops into an annoying runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, and the throat area is also irritated. At worst, it reaches the lungs, which can lead to asthma. The constant irritation also attacks the natural barrier of the mucous membrane. This opens the door for other allergens to enter and the next allergy develops. The complaints are getting stronger, more and more diversified, and in the worst case we talk about the so-called change of plan.

In the case of children and young people, for the most part, there are also social restrictions. Due to the impaired health, little or no sports can be practiced, and play and training with other children in the fresh air is also missing. Learning performance can also decrease dramatically, as allergic diseases make it difficult to concentrate in the classroom.

IMMEDIATE TEST: Is the widespread assumption correct that allergic reactions to pollen are stronger in rural areas than in cities? How are air quality and pollen allergies related?

Uwe Berger: Studies on allergic reactions and air quality in urban and rural areas have shown that allergic reactions are significantly stronger in urban areas. The conclusion of the study: A high percentage of allergens in good air quality is less aggressive than poor air quality with fewer allergens. In the city, the airways and mucous membranes are constantly exposed to exhaust gases, particulates and other air pollution. Furthermore, plants are also irritated by bad air, which means they produce more aggressive allergens. Good air is a key component for a healthy population. In your own four walls, air purifiers are the best way to create a low-allergen environment.


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IMMEDIATE TEST: If you have a pollen allergy, shouldn’t you ventilate at all and let the air purifiers do the job?

Uwe Berger: No, absolutely no. Fresh air is important. However, it is advisable to keep it on air and preferably when the pollen count is low. The pollen alert service we have developed can check this depending on your location and provides an estimate of the intensity of the pollen load during the day (www.pollenwarndienst.at). The air purifier helps after aeration.

IMMEDIATE TEST: How can air purifiers help with allergies and air pollution?

Uwe Berger: It only takes ten minutes to remove more than 95% of allergens from the indoor air. The air purifier removes not only pollen, but also dust, dirt, fungal spores and chemical compounds (odors). With cleansing, it relieves the airways and immune system. Particularly valid are devices that analyze the air independently and react automatically depending on the load. Recovery of the immune system is also helpful so that you can come out stronger the next day.

Pollen allergy: useful information summarized

  • Untreated pollen allergies it can lead to further allergies (cross allergies) and chronic diseases such as asthma. Prompt treatment is therefore important.
  • Bad air quality affects plants and the immune system e air filter help with allergies: Relieve the immune system, improve air quality and remove allergens such as pollen.

The right air purifier against allergies

Air purifiers help relieve the immune system, making it more capable of dealing with allergies. Removing pollen at home or at work can also help those affected breathe deeply. An automatic system that allows the air purifier to react according to the pollution of the air quality creates additional comfort. A display of air quality conditions is also useful. IMTEST tests both of them in air purifiers.

Check outside air

Air purifiers not only actively help against allergies, but also passively. Manufacturers like Philips and Medion provide detailed information on air quality with their app, even outdoors. This allows those affected to better plan when and if they want to expose themselves to heavy, moderate or only light pollen pollution.

If you don’t have an air purifier, you can protect yourself from allergies with independent apps. For example the one developed by Uwe Berger (see interview above). www.pollenwarndienst.at helps to find information on pollen load depending on location. There is also an app for that.

Medical treatment

However, internal measures such as those mentioned do not replace treatment. A visit to the ear, nose and throat doctor not only provides certainty to which pollen and other substances the body is allergic to. Of hyposensitization it is a possible treatment that brings long-term immunity to these substances. This is comparable to a vaccination. Extracts containing the allergen are administered to the patient at regular intervals and for a longer period of time. The body adapts to this and, at best, no longer reacts allergically after treatment. According to the attending physicians, the chance of success of such a treatment is about 80%. Unlike pet hair allergies pays health insurance treating pollen allergies and thus reacting to pollen allergy as a serious disease.

Allergy test with droplets on two forearms
In a self-experiment at the doctor: the doctor treating you drips extracts with different allergens on the forearms. After 15 minutes, redness and slight swelling appear in case of allergy. © IMTEST
Document with allergens to be tested
In the first test procedure, allergies to various types of pollen such as grass and birch, but also pet dander, mite feces (house dust) and types of fungi are tested. © IMTEST

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