Birch pollen allergy is widespread and common in many regions, and it is associated with cross-sensitivities, which include apples. Eating apples when birch pollen is around aggravates the symptoms and can trigger even more reactions. Austrian researchers have made an attempt to find a treatment for apple allergy, which is diagnosed in about 70% of those who are allergic to birch. As of this trial stage, the approach appears to be effective, thus introducing a way to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of this pollen-related food allergy.Birch pollen allergy is widespread and common in many regions, and it is associated with cross-sensitivities, which include apples. Eating apples when birch pollen is around aggravates the symptoms and can trigger even more reactions. Austrian researchers have made an attempt to find a treatment for apple allergy, which is diagnosed in about 70% of those who are allergic to birch. As of this trial stage, the approach appears to be effective, thus introducing a way to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of this pollen-related food allergy.
Apples vs ApplesResearchers from the Medical University of Vienna have suggested fighting fire with fire: according to their study, apple allergy treatment can be done by means of apple allergens. If a person suffering from allergy of this kind eats an apple, it will (at least in most cases) result in itching in several places, including gullet, ears and mouth; besides, it’s capable of triggering swelling and rashes. The Phase II trial showed that administering an apple allergen Mal d 1 is capable of helping treat this condition. The substance in question is genetically manufactured, or recombinant, and easy to store, because it’s very stable (the gene-modifying approach helped stabilize the structure). Sixty volunteers took part in the study; all of them were suffering from apple and birch allergy. They were divided into three groups, 20 volunteers each: one took placebo, the second one took birch pollen allergen, and the third one was treated with Mal d 1. The latter was introduced as sublingual drops which were supposed to be taken once a day. While all others seemed to have no effect, the recombinant allergen caused symptom elimination in six out of twenty participants: they were able to eat apples (each of them ate two apples, to be exact) with no symptoms manifesting. All the rest (e.g. 14/20) had symptoms alleviated, and this reduction helped them eat apples without suffering. The next stage is a Phase III trial which is to be conducted in multiple centers. Then the researchers will have to find a partner to produce the medicine to make it available to the audience. If they manage to do it, the new treatment will supposedly hit the market in several years. The investigators believe that the new approach can also be applicable to other food allergens.
What Can I Do to Alleviate the Symptoms of Birch Allergy?
- Cross-sensitivities are a common thing in those who are allergic to birch. When it’s the springtime season, avoid eating apples, celery and pears, as it can aggravate the symptoms and make the situation even worse.
- Consult your doctor to help you find a medicine that would help alleviate the symptoms. If common pills do not help, consider special immunotherapy (mind that its effectiveness is not guaranteed, but some people benefit from it).
- The dangerous season lasts from late April to early June, but it depends on the area you live in. If you have a birch tree in your yard, don’t take it down – it will not help you avoid the symptoms, because allergens are capable of travelling 30 km and more! If your condition gets bad, consider moving to some other place or even country until birches cease to release tons of pollen.
- Try to stay indoors, especially in the afternoon. Most people feel better after it rains, so open windows only in the evening or at night.
- Wash your hair often, as pollen builds up on it. The same is true of your clothes – change it upon getting home.
- Among other things which may help are regular room cleaning and wearing special masks. Even masks used by cyclists in the mountains can help, because the filter is good enough to prevent pollen from getting into your nose. It does not help cover your eyes, but such masks can help you minimize contact with pollen. Note that common surgical masks won’t do, as there’s too much space between your skin and the mask, so pollen will still get into your nose and mouth.