Skip to content

    Allergies Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    More Serious Than Sneezing? High Pollen Linked to Death

    By
    WebMD Health News

    April 27, 2000 -- If you have seasonal allergies or know someone who does, you know the misery associated with a high pollen count: sneezing, itchy eyes, and increased asthma problems. Even if you felt like dying, you probably wouldn't think of these pollen-heavy days as deadly.

    Think again, say Dutch investigators who found more death due to heart disease and certain respiratory conditions on days with high pollen counts.

    "Pollen is a well-known trigger of allergies, especially hay fever and asthma," the authors write. "However, deaths related to these conditions are extremely rare, and cannot account for the associations seen in this study." They likened the association to the one between air pollution and death, noting that a 5% to 10% increase in death is seen on high-pollution days. The new study was published in the journal The Lancet.

    "The association is a bit like the link between [death] and very warm or very cold weather, which are also known to increase [death]," lead author Bert Brunekreef, PhD, tells WebMD. "Similar findings have been reported repeatedly for air pollution." Brunekreef is an epidemiologist in the Netherlands.

    The authors looked for relationships between pollen counts and death due to heart disease, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic lung disease. They obtained statistics for the total number of daily deaths from the Netherlands' Central Bureau of Statistics over an eight-year period. The investigators then related these statistics to corresponding data for airborne pollen concentrations.

    During this period, there was an average of more than 330 deaths per day. Of these, there was an average of about 140 deaths per day due to cardiovascular disease, 16 for COPD, and 10 for pneumonia.

    When the researchers looked at the number and rate of deaths and the amount of Poacae, a common pollen found in the Netherlands, they found that the days with the highest pollen counts were associated with an increase of about 6% in death from heart disease, 15% in death from COPD, and 17% in death from pneumonia.

    The authors write that, in other research, certain indicators of allergies are linked to increased death due to heart disease and COPD, and that their study seems to support pollen's contribution to the death rate. They caution, though, that their findings should be replicated in other studies before this link can be confirmed.

    Today on WebMD

    man blowing nose
    Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
    Allergy capsule
    Breathe easier with these products.
     
    cat on couch
    Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
    Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
    Which ones affect you?
     

    blowing nose
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Article
     
    lone star tick
    Slideshow
    Woman blowing nose
    Slideshow
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    cat lying on shelf
    Article
    Allergy prick test
    VIDEO
     
    Man sneezing into tissue
    Assessment
    Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching
    Quiz