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Allergies all year round: demand for drugs increases

Allergies are already for the whole year: the demand for drugs to be able to breathe is growing by 9.3% compared to pre-pandemic levels and the autonomous communities with the greatest increase are Andalusia (26%); Catalonia (17%) and the Valencian Country (12%)

Allergies all year round: demand for drugs increases

Pollen causing spring allergies. PHOTO EFE/Jesús Diges

This is one of the main conclusions on the subject of allergies and drugs that emerges from the latest analysis of the Cofares Trends Observatoryleading cooperative in the distribution of medicines in Spain, and carried out in collaboration with Cipla, a laboratory specialized in respiratory health.

The study examined trends in the distribution of this type of medicine from January 2018 to September 2022, covering the main time of the pandemic, the pre-phase and the post-pandemic stage.

Specifically, as the analysis reflects, the cumulative demand for respiratory drugs in general is currently 9.3% higher than pre-pandemic levels, with Andalusia (26%); Catalonia (17%) and the Valencian Community (12%) as the autonomous communities in which this demand has increased the most.

Allergies and drugs, an eternal spring

Among the reasons behind this increase in the demand for medicines and respiratory products in pharmacies is the greater blurring of the seasons which, in terms of allergies and respiratory problems, means that we find ourselves in a kind of eternal spring, with allergy symptoms all year round.

In this sense, the doctor Carlos Blanco, head of Allergology at the University Hospital of La Princesa de Madridhe explains that over time “we have noticed that, in big cities, such as Madrid, shady bananas have been planted that bloom in the months of March and April, and that cause a lot of allergies”.

“Therefore, patients who previously only had symptoms in May and June due to their allergies to grasses and olive trees, now also have symptoms in March and April due to the pollen of the shadow plantain.”

In addition, this specialist points out, cypress trees are trees that bloom in the winter months, and over the years, pollen allergy patients can also have symptoms in December, January and February.

In other words, based on this, a patient allergic to pollen not only presents symptoms in the traditional months of May and June, but can now start in the winter due to the cypress trees, continue to the beginning of the spring due to the shade plantain and extend symptoms until almost summer due to grasses and olive trees.

“This makes the allergies more and more prolonged over time,” concludes Dr. Blanco.

Cofares Observatory study infographic

Allergies and climate change

Another factor that motivates this scenario of increased allergies and therefore drugs is associated, according to recent scientific literature, to climate change and air pollutionwhich have adverse impacts on respiratory allergies.

And it is that pollen allergy and the pollen season at the beginning are altered in duration and intensity by climate change.

According to studies conducted, plants exhibit enhanced photosynthesis and reproductive effects and produce more pollen in response to high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Beyond this prolongation of spring in terms of allergy and respiratory problems, the increase in demand for respiratory products in the face of pre-pandemic levels could be, as the experts at the Cofares Trends Observatory point out, a temporary consequence of immune debt’, due to deconfinement and the massive return to the streets.

Regarding the evolution detected over time on the demand for products intended to breathe better, the analysis reveals a very marked seasonal pattern in the pre-covid-19 era (January 2018 – February 2020), which concentrates the demand for drugs and respiratory products in very specific maximum peaks: January and the months of spring and autumn.

The reasons are the characteristic factors of each of these moments (drop in temperatures typical of autumn and winter and movement of pollen in spring).

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