The presence of different strains of grass pollen in the atmosphere can help predict when hay fever and asthma could strike, researchers have found. A team led by the University of Queensland (UQ) researchers, tracked grass pollen for seasonal variations and found it was released into the atmosphere later in areas further from the equator.
“Using this method, we may be able to better predict when allergenic pollen is present and allow people affected by asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and rhinitis to more effectively manage their condition,” said Nicholas Osborne, Associate Professor at UQ’s School of Public Health.
“(And) with the advent of personalized medicine, more and more people are becoming aware of which allergen is responsible for their allergy,” Osborne said.
He said the research would help allergy sufferers prepare for the hay fever season and doctors to prescribe more personalised treatments.
“People who fail to manage their asthma are at greater risk of asthma attack and being forced to visit hospital emergency departments,” Osborne said.
“Having a more accurate forecast of when a patient is at risk will allow people to better manage their disease.”
Scientists hope to expand on the research to create a unique profile of each grass pollen species to determine the most harmful strains.
For this, they are examining hospital and GP records and seeing if demand for these services involving asthma and rhinitis correlates with the presence of one grass species over another.
“Eventually – possibly within three to four years – we hope this will allow us to produce a better forecast of when and where exposure to pollen occurs,” Osborne added.