First the trees, now the herbs: allergy sufferers under pollen stress / more and more …

Commercial health insurance – KKH

First the trees, now the herbs: allergy sufferers under pollen stress

More and more people over the age of 45 are suffering from hay fever – significantly more women are affected

Hanover, June 13, 2022 – It’s a stressful year for allergy sufferers: there has already been a particularly high amount of tree pollen in recent months – and now grass pollen is causing a stir. According to data from the KKH Commercial Health Insurance Fund, middle-aged adults in particular are increasingly affected by hay fever. Corresponding medical diagnoses in the 45-64 age group increased by 26% from 2010 to 2020. KKH has already recorded an increase of approximately 44% between the ages of 65 and 79, and in the 80-year-old generation the number of people with hay fever almost doubled.

Many of those affected have been plagued by allergic reactions to pollen since early childhood. In many patients, however, symptoms lessen over the years or almost completely disappear. Symptoms often intensify again in mid-adulthood, which on the one hand explains the increase from the age of 45. On the other hand, pollen allergies are increasingly being diagnosed for the first time in adulthood. The reasons for this are different. Lack of exercise and obesity may also play a role, as can active and passive smoking and vitamin D deficiency. Cutlets also have a higher risk of suffering from allergic rhinitis because they are less resistant to a wide variety. of microorganisms.

Furthermore, climate change can also play a role. There are hardly any months without pollen anymore, the pollen season always starts earlier. The increasing concentration of CO2 in the air also stimulates plants to produce more pollen. Furthermore, environmental pollutants such as ozone are deposited on the pollen, making it increasingly aggressive. So they also trigger allergic reactions in older people who have never had to struggle with hay fever before. On the other hand, contaminated pollen can lead to more severe symptoms and disease progression.

Is hay fever more of a woman thing?

Apparently, allergic rhinitis is more common among women. From middle age, the gender gap widens particularly wide: according to KKH data, about 40% more women than men between the ages of 40 and 75 suffer from typical symptoms such as itchy eyes , tingling in the nose and bouts of sneezing. The reasons for this have not yet been scientifically clarified. One possible influencing factor is the female hormone estrogen. It is partly responsible for the fact that women react more sensitively to allergens, from their first menstrual period during puberty to taking contraceptives or pregnancy to hormone therapy during menopause.

If a pollen allergy is suspected, the KKH recommends having a skin and blood test performed by a specialist. Quick recognition and treatment are important so that hay fever does not turn into allergic asthma. Other tips to avoid itchy eyes and sneezing attacks:

  • Pay attention to the pollen count prediction and take it into account accordingly when staying outdoors
  • Install pollen screens on the windows
  • Install the pollen filter in your car
  • Rinse the nose with a nasal douche
  • Do not take off your clothes in the bedroom
  • Wash your hair before going to bed
  • close the windows at night
  • Spend your holidays in pollen-poor regions such as in the high mountains or by the sea
  • Athletes suffering from severe hay fever should discuss their training plan with an allergist and base it on the pollen load in the air
  • If possible, exercise directly during or after a rain shower

Note to editors: Graphics on the topic of hay fever can be found at

Notes on data analysis

Commercial health insurance company KKH evaluated nationwide data on pollen-only hay fever frequency (diagnosis of pollen-induced rhinopathy, ICD-10 J30.1) in 2010 and 2020. The health insurance company commercial KKH is one of the largest statutory health insurance companies nationwide with approximately 1.6 million policyholders. You can find more information at

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