Hayfever may not such a benign condition after all. Researchers in the Netherlands have discovered a link between death from several causes and daily airborne pollen concentrations.
The Netherlands examined daily death rates during the pollen season (April to September) between1986 and 1994, and compared these to the reported levels of pollen in the air.
During the study periods, there was an average of 322.5 deaths each day of which 14.8 were heart related, 15.8 due to respiratory disease and 9.8 due to pneumonia. High concentrations of several pollens, particularly the Poaceae variety, were related to higher death rates especially from respiratory disease and pneumonia. Higher pollen concentrations resulted in a small increase in the risk of death from heart failure.
The researchers believe that pollen acts indirectly in the way that it can cause death. Increased mortality, they say, can be explained by the allergic reaction and the inflammatory effect it produces in the body (Lancet, 2000; 355: 1517-8).