How to Survive Allergy Season in Japan

spring

The beautiful spring season has come. It’s getting warmer, hitting 20 during the day and more sunny days. It’s not humid or dry either. Flowers blooming and seasonal decorations and foods are everywhere in Japan. Many people are excited as the spring approaches so that we can see the cherry blossoms blooming everywhere and Japan becomes full of gorgeous pink blossoms.

It’s perfect days to go out, except I have an allergy to Japanese Cedar pollen or what we call sugikafun(杉花粉) …

cedder pollen

Spring allergy …. please go away !! I hope to escape somewhere that has no Japanese cedar pollen spreading.

The peak is from the beginning of March to mid-March in Honshu, the biggest island in Japan.

Why You Have Sneezing, Running nose, and itchy eyes around March?

When very fine powder released by the Japanese cedar plant, the immune system reacts to the pollen and it releases number of chemicals to prevent the spread of infection that your immune system perceives.

The chemicals in turn causes the symptoms of allergic reactions, such as fits of sneezing, and itchy eyes.

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In my case, I suddenly got a symptom when I was 24 years old. In fact, my mom and many of my friends got the allergy in their early or mid 20’s.

This is because when pollen is inhaled, the immune system reacts, and it considers the pollen is as the enemy of your body (bad for your health), so then your immune system develops antibodies called IgE antibody. This IgE antibody develops every time the pollen comes into your body and accumulate little by little.

When the IgE reaches a certain amount, histamine releases and you start showing the symptoms of the allergy.

So, the longer you live in Japan, the more you have a chance to become the allergy to the cedar pollen, unfortunately.

So, What Should I Do?

Don’t worry. I prepare the remedy for you to service this season.

1. Go to Okinawa.

Okinawa has no cedar trees, so you can avoid the allergy there.

In addition, 泡盛; Awamori,  the Okinawa shochu alcohol, has effect as an anti-allergy, so you can enjoy Awamori and Okinawa food during the season about for 2 weeks.

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2. Go to Hokkaido

Hokkaido also has much fewer cedar trees and no pollen reaches there. Japanese environment department announced that Hakata city, Hokkaido has only 678/cm2 pollen while Chiyoda, Tokyo has 3705/cm2 on average. The worst place in Ibaraki prefecture and Mie prefecture by the way.

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3. Take pills and nose spray

If you can’t go to either Okinawa or Hokkaido for that long, the easiest thing you can do is to go to ドラッグストア pharmacy like マツモトキヨシ Matsumoto Kiyoshi. Try to ask pharmacist some products for your allergy. You can ask them “kafunshou no kusuri wo kudasai” (花粉症の薬をください). There are tons of products for the allergy that are prepared in stores since 1/4 Japanese have the allergy, so you may want to ask “ichiban kiku kusuri” (一番効く薬) meaning the most effective pills, or “ichiban ninki no aru mono” (一番人気のあるもの) meaning the most popular one.

What I used to use is these pills, I’m taking 1 to 2 times a day. But I sometimes take more than that when I can’t stop my nose from running! 😂

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My friends recommended アレグラ as well.

Now, I am taking this pill and work well.

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 But a pharmacist told me which medicine is most effective depends on each person.

I also have this nose spray (鼻スプレー) to spray into my nose when I have a running or stuffy nose.

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4. Do not take pollen into your body

It is really important not to get pollen into your body.

Wear masks when you go out all the time.

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You may want to try these products that block pollen coming on to your skin or into your nose. You can apply it on your mask, spray it on your face, and wash inside your nose with it.

 

Also, it is important not to get pollen inside your house.

Don’t welcome the pollen to come inside your house, brush the pollen from your clothes when you enter your house. Also, take a shower as soon as possible when you come home. Lastly, you want to vacuum and wipe the floor as much as you can so that the pollen wouldn’t float in the air.

Having an air cleaner and humidifier is also good to get rid of the pollen from your house.

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5. Go see a doctor

The best thing you can do is to go to the ear, nose, and throat doctor ahead of the time of the season, probably late January or early February since it is more effective if you take counter to the allergy before the symptom comes out.

Although it’s already late and passed the December, you can still go to the doctor to get some treatment and prescription medicine because the prescription medicines are more effective than the non-prescription medicines, as it’s better to get some treatment than nothing.

Besides taking pills, clinics provide injections as well. It might be more effective than taking pills, but only about 70% of people who get the shot successfully become immune from the allergy. Also, you might have to consider any potential side effect as well.

 

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If you have heavy symptoms of having a stuffing nose, having surgery to take the nose mucous out and then make it smaller can be a choice. Recently, this kind of laser surgery has become more popular.

Lastly, there is Allergen Immunotherapy, where you place an extract of the pollen under the tongue, and then you swallow it. This is to take pollen extract of cedar into your body so then your immune system can get used to the pollen itself and become more resistant to it. You have to take this every day when it’s not allergy season and it may take a few years to work, but 85% of people who took this treatment said that it worked. 

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This cedar pollen spreading all over Japan except Hokkaido and Okinawa and it’s a big problem during the season and affects many people’s lives, but if you prepare for it, you can have more enjoyable spring! 😎

 

 

 

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