In recent weeks, very high pollen concentrations have been measured in the air, causing a nuisance for people with allergies.
With spring approaching, alder and hazel are blooming. Since 11 February, very high pollen concentrations of both trees have been measured in the air, figures from the health institute Sciensano showed.
"The alder and hazel pollen season is ongoing. Hazels and especially alders are emitting large amounts of pollen in the air as the current weather conditions are favourable to its dispersion," its website read.
The graph below shows concentrations of up to almost 500 pollen grains per cubic meter between 11 and 20 February.
While the typical allergy symptoms — a runny nose, cough or shortness of breath (in case of asthma) — can easily be mistaken for a cold, flu or a Covid-19 infection, it is also possible the high concentration of pollen is getting to you.
"During this risk period, it is recommended that people who are sensitive to this type of pollen take all necessary precautions to limit allergic symptoms."
Nowadays, in part as a result of climate change which is seeing a rise in temperatures and longer, drier periods, the pollen season lasts longer than before. This is already the case this year, as an unusually high peak was recorded last month as a result of the mild weather.
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People with allergies should try to avoid outdoor activities when peak concentrations of pollen are recorded. Wearing sunglasses, drying linen inside, regularly rinsing your nose and washing your hair before going to sleep can help reduce symptoms, Sciensano noted.
Importantly, when experiencing the symptoms listed above, it is important to pay special attention to fever and body aches, as they might be caused by viral infection. In case of doubt, it is recommended to call your general practitioner.