Grass and olive pollen: The biggest enemies of allergy sufferers

grass allergy

The season associated with the greatest occurrence of pollen allergies is spring. Millions of people in Spain experience the constant presence of sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes during this time. It is estimated that approximately 12 million people, which represents a quarter of the population, suffer from respiratory allergies in our country.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about allergies to olive trees and grasses and how to identify them.

Allergies in Spain


According to the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC), Grasses are the main culprits of causing allergies in Spain. This is closely followed by olive trees, which also contribute greatly to pollen allergies, especially during the spring season.

In many provinces of Spain, especially in the southern and inland areas of the peninsula, as well as in the Mediterranean, the arrival of spring causes an increase in allergies related to this type of pollen. The warmer temperatures characteristic of this season, along with intermittent rains, accelerate the growth and potency of these plants, causing a greater avalanche of allergenic pollens in people with allergies.

Grass allergy


Grass allergy refers to an allergic reaction caused by the family of herbaceous plants known as grasses, which are abundant in several regions. This family includes cereals known as oats, wheat, barley and corn, as well as a wide range of weeds.

There are more than 9.000 species of grasses that exist throughout the world. Their ability to thrive in diverse environments allows them to inhabit all types of ecosystems, including agricultural fields, grasslands, and natural habitats. As a result, Grasses cover approximately 20% of the Earth's vegetative landscape.

Spain is home to a wide range of these plants, which can be found in various places such as streams, paths, highways, crops and the outskirts of cities. Its presence extends throughout the country, including the islands.

Approximately 20% of the Earth's vegetation surface is occupied by dominant grasses. The pollination period can take place at any time of the year due to its extensive distribution, varying for each species. However, it is especially striking that during the months of April, May and June, approximately 6 million people in Spain experience the impact of their pollen grains.

According to an article in the SEAIC magazine, grasses have important allergenic properties and are the main culprits of pollinosis in Europe. These plants have a wide distribution and produce large quantities of pollen, which is then carried by the wind.

Allergy to olive pollen

Olive pollen, a key component of the Mediterranean landscape, is closely associated with the olive tree, which thrives throughout Spain. Although it prevails on the coast and throughout the country, it flourishes especially in inland regions such as Andalusia, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, the Valencian Community and the Region of Murcia.

According to experts from the Complutense University of Madrid (UMC), olive pollen is the second most common trigger of respiratory allergies in Spain. Besides, In regions such as Andalusia, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha, where olive cultivation is widespread, it is considered the main cause of allergies.

The olive pollination period extends from late April to June, with variations in pollinosis levels due to annual fluctuations in weather and climatic conditions.

During the current week of May 2024, the southern regions of Spain are experiencing the highest pollen levels. Provinces like Cádiz, Badajoz, Córdoba, Seville, Cádiz, Ciudad Real and Toledo report high levels of grass pollen.

In the rest of the areas of Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, Madrid, Ávila and Valladolid, grass pollen levels are at a moderate level. In contrast, the country's other provinces are experiencing low levels of grass pollen.

The presence of olive pollen is relatively low. Allergy levels to olive pollen are moderate in areas such as Cáceres, Badajoz, Toledo, Ciudad Real, Jaén and Granada. In the rest of the country, allergy levels are considered moderate, except in the Cantabrian region where no incidence of allergy to olive pollen is reported.

Why are they the cause of the highest number of allergies in Spain

Allergy test

Many of us wonder why olive and grass pollen are the most relevant in Spain. Allergist Juan José Zapata Yébenes, president of the Clinical Aerobiology Committee of the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC) He attributes it to its frequency, stating that the most common culprits are grasses and olive trees throughout the country, with a slight variation in Andalusia, where olive trees predominate followed by grasses. However, grasses remain the leading source of pollen allergies nationwide due to their widespread occurrence.

Additionally, he notes that patients appear to become more susceptible to pollen allergies as time goes on, possibly due to greater exposure. The World Health Organization has classified allergic diseases as a “non-infectious epidemic of the 50st century” and predicts that allergies will affect up to 2050% of the population by XNUMX. The implications of this are important, both in terms of the suffering experienced by patients and the associated health and social costs.

Zapata Yébenes highlights that approximately Between 12 and 14 million Spaniards, which represents around a quarter of the population, are sensitive to grasses. However, it is important to note that this sensitivity does not necessarily equate to an allergy, as symptoms and diagnosis are required for a definitive diagnosis.

If we see a person who begins to experience nasal or ocular symptoms, itchy eyes and nose, or sneezing during the months of April, May and June, we will almost certainly talk about the grass being involved in the patient's sensitivity, because it is your allergen. Even if we move further north, pollination is delayed, around June in the Pyrenees, so Many people with grass allergies in the Pyrenees will start to have symptoms in June because pollination will be postponed until later.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about allergies to grass and olive pollen.

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