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Cedar Allergy

Author: Paul Granberg, Issue: March 2004, Topic: Medical

Spring is fast approaching, and with it brings new experiences for us all. One of the least welcome of these is the yearly dump of pollen from the Sugi (Japanese Cedar) tree. About 30% of people are allergic (90% actually carry antibodies but most show no symptoms) to the pollen from this tree, and it produces symptoms that we associate with hayfever:

  • Itchy/Puffy Eyes
  • Running nose
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty sleeping

Some of you who have never had hayfever before, will get it for the first time. So be warned.

Help is at hand though. Because this allergy affects so many Japanese people, there is a comprehensive range of medications available from your local pharmacy. You'll usually see large prominent displays set up at this time of year, promoting the latest and greatest in hayfever medicine (usually they will have a picture of a pine tree on the front). They are effective, with one small capsule of medication usually providing between 8-16 hours of relief from the symptoms.

Here's the problem. Most are Antihistamine based, so they will relieve the symptoms by reducing the inflammation in your nose and eyes. BUT, it is not uncommon for Antihistamines to make some people drowsy. Medical studies show that a moderate dose of Antihistamines has a similar effect on driving to moderate consumption of alcohol. So please be cautious if you choose to take this medication, until you know how it reacts with you.

If you have a severe reaction to the pollen, you might like to invest in an air purifier (ionizer) for your apartment. They're not too expensive, with the cheapest models starting off at around 10-15,000yen, but have been proven to be quite effective at reducing pollen levels in housing. If you decide that this is the step for you, go for one that includes a HEPA filter as these will trap over 99% of the particles in the air.

<< Using Japanese TV in the Language Learning Classroom | Master Index | White Day: March 2004 >>

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