Hello, this is sio.
Recently, the cold weather has eased up, and the streets have begun to be decorated with the pale pink of cherry blossoms and the yellow of rape blossoms.
However, it is a difficult season for hay fever sufferers, isn’t it?
I am one of those who suffer from cedar pollen from February to late April.
Studies conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare have shown that QOL (Quality Of Life) is affected along with allergic rhinitis, including hay fever, and it seems that people are finding out how their daily lives are specifically impaired by hay fever.
This article summarizes the current state of hay fever, effective countermeasures, and areas with high and low hay fever.
I hope it will be useful for your hay fever countermeasures.
- What is hay fever?
- Prevalence of hay fever has more than doubled in the past 25 years
- What hay fever countermeasures are being practiced by everyone?
- What are the most effective foods for combating hay fever?
- Escape to a "pollen-free area"
- “April" is the best domestic travel season to escape from pollen
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is a symptom that causes runny nose and itchy eyes due to allergic reaction when pollen adheres to the nasal mucous membrane during the season when pollen is flying.
Cedar trees have been abundant in Japan since ancient times, and cedar forests cover 18% of the nation’s forests and 12% of the country’s land area.
Cedar pollinosis has been increasing rapidly in recent decades, and its main causes are thought to be dietary changes, autonomic nervous system disorders, and stress.
According to a nasal allergy epidemiological survey of approximately 20,000 otolaryngologists and their family members nationwide, the prevalence of hay fever has been increasing every year, from 1 out of 5 in 1998, 25 years ago, to 1 out of 2 in 2019, 20 years later.
There is a hypothesis that pollen allergy sufferers tend to be located in urban areas, and that pollen that falls on asphalt is re-suspended, or that PM2.5 and other fine particles adhere to pollen, causing a strong allergic reaction.
Hay fever is usually associated with cedar and cypress in early spring, but birch in early summer and ragweed in autumn are also well known, and are called seasonal allergies because symptoms occur during their pollen seasons.
Prevalence of hay fever has more than doubled in the past 25 years
The prevalence of hay fever has been increasing every year.
In 1998, 19.6% of all people (about 1 out of 5) had some form of hay fever, but by 2019, this figure had increased to 42.5% (about 1 out of 2.4).
In other words, the prevalence of hay fever has increased about 2.2 times in the last 25 years.
Today, it appears that most of the prevalent hay fever sufferers, 91% of them, suffer from cedar pollinosis.
By age group, the prevalence of hay fever is increasing in all age groups, with a marked increase in the prevalence among young people aged 5-19 years.
What hay fever countermeasures are being practiced by everyone?
The most important thing to do to prevent hay fever is to avoid contact with pollen as much as possible.
In order to reduce the amount of pollen entering the body as much as possible, it is necessary to wear masks, glasses, and hats when going out, and to take measures to prevent pollen from sticking to the nose, eyes, and skin.
The following is a ranking of hay fever countermeasures that people are currently taking or would like to take in the future.
- Always wear a mask when going out
- Medicines, eye drops, anti-pollen sprays, nasal drops, etc.
- Washing hands frequently and gargling
- Do not hang laundry or bedding outside
- Use air purifiers and humidifiers
- Cleaning the face, eyes, and nose
- When returning home, remove pollen from clothing at the door
- Wearing pollen-preventive glasses when going out
- Boosting immunity through adequate sleep and rest, immunotherapy, etc.
- Improving dietary habits through foods, health foods, supplements, etc.
Masks, nasal drops, and washing hands and gargling were ranked high, although they have become completely customary due to the COVID-19.
In addition, to reduce the amount of pollen in the house as much as possible, “not hanging laundry and bedding outside to dry,” “using an air purifier,” and “removing pollen from clothes at the entrance” were also mentioned.
In recent years, attention has focused on boosting immunity through treatments such as desensitization and immunotherapy, sleep and rest, and even improving one’s diet.
What are the most effective foods for combating hay fever?
In particular, dietary improvement is an affordable hay fever countermeasure that can be practiced, so we would like to start now.
I have compiled a ranking of foods that everyone is practicing to find out what specific foods are effective in combating hay fever.
- Lactic acid bacteria
- Sugar beet tea
- Black tea
- Bacteria beet tea ingredients
- Benifuuki tea
- Tea catechin
- Herbal tea
Other foods such as lotus root, onion, cocoa, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, and blue fish are also listed.
Mr. Kawashima of the comedian says that he graduated from hay fever 6 years ago by improving his intestinal environment with yogurt.
Many people say that their hay fever gradually improved by eating yogurt, so I would like to give it a try.
Escape to a “pollen-free area”
Even if you take thorough measures against hay fever, such as wearing a mask, washing your hands, and improving your diet, pollen is a threat that cannot be completely prevented.
The ultimate hay fever remedy is to escape to an area with low pollen counts, even if only for a short period of time.
Where are the areas in Japan with low pollen counts?
What about your area?
Based on a nasal allergy epidemiological survey of approximately 20,000 otolaryngologists and their family members in Japan, the prefectures are listed in order of the prevalence of cedar pollinosis.
Prevalence rates other than cedar pollinosis were also added for reference.
Prevalence [%] ranking of cedar pollinosis by prefecture.
Worst 3 prefectures
The three worst prefectures with the highest prevalence of cedar pollinosis were Yamanashi, Saitama, and Tochigi.
The three worst prefectures for prevalence rates other than cedar pollinosis were Nara, Kyoto, and Yamanashi and Nagano (equal rates).
Best 3 prefectures
The three prefectures with the lowest prevalence of cedar pollinosis were Hokkaido, Okinawa, and Kagoshima.
The three prefectures with the lowest prevalence rates of other than cedar pollinosis were Okinawa, Nagasaki, and Kochi.
“Okinawa” is the best “pollen-avoiding” place, because it is in the top three for both cedar pollen and non cedar pollen.
Unlike Honshu, the distribution of cedar pollen in Hokkaido is limited to the southern part of Hokkaido, and cedar pollen allergy is not as big a problem in Hokkaido as it is in Honshu. In the past, grass pollen allergy was common, but now birch pollen allergy is said to be more common.
“April” is the best domestic travel season to escape from pollen
Generally, the on-season for domestic travel is from July to September, when prices are at their peak.
Other pinpoint on-seasons include the year-end and New Year holidays, Golden Week, the summer Obon vacation period, and consecutive holidays in autumn.
So when is the off-season when travel costs can be kept low?
The off-season varies slightly depending on the tourist destination, but in general, the following four periods are off-season
After New Year’s Day
After the New Year’s holiday, work starts immediately, schools begin, and Japan as a whole becomes busier. Therefore, fewer people go on vacation, and travel prices are lower.
Early to mid-April
This is also the off-season because it is difficult to take vacations as students start a new semester or school year and some new people enter the workforce.
After Golden Week
After Golden Week, from mid-May to early June, there are no consecutive holidays and fewer people travel before the summer vacation.
October to early December
After the consecutive autumn vacations (Silver Week) in September, this is the off-season for working people and students, as it is difficult to take vacations. However, please note that some tourist destinations will be in the autumn foliage season and prices will skyrocket.
What about the off-season in Okinawa, the strongest “pollen-free” prefecture in Japan?
Okinawa is a popular resort destination, so its popularity is concentrated during Golden Week and summer vacation. Prices are especially high in the summer when the island is crowded with people enjoying marine leisure activities. In winter in Okinawa, there are many cloudy days, which has the disadvantage that it is difficult to experience the blue sky and blue sea that are typical of Okinawa.
In addition, the rainy season begins after GW, so even if you want to go sightseeing or swimming, you will have to give up due to rain for an increasing period of time.
In November, the typhoon season ends, but the weather becomes too cold for marine sports even in Okinawa.
In other words, early to mid-April is the recommended season to travel to Okinawa from a price perspective.
How was this article for you?
In order to prevent your QOL (Quality Of Life) from being reduced as much as possible due to hay fever, first of all, you need to make an effort to keep the pollen that causes hay fever out of your body as much as possible by wearing masks and anti-pollen glasses when you go out as a form of self-care that you can do yourself.
It has been shown that pollen is reduced by about 1/6 with a hay fever mask and by 1/4 with pollen-preventive glasses.
Even if you are at home, close windows and utilize air purifiers and humidifiers during times of high pollen dispersion.
If you go out, avoid wearing pollen-sensitive clothing, and when you return home, brush off pollen at the door and wash your face and gargle immediately.
In addition, improve your diet by eating yogurt and other foods to improve your intestinal environment and boost your immunity.
In addition, plan a short trip to a “pollen-free” area to refresh yourself.
The best place to go is Okinawa, where cedar pollen and other pollens are less prevalent and prices are lower in the off-season from early to mid-April.
Let’s get through this year’s depressing pollen allergy season together!