April pollen in Barcelona: the perfect storm

In which, overcome by an apparently record year for pollen in Barcelona, I attempt to contact an expert in the field for some explanation.

I don’t know about you but to me, this spring seems like it has been very polleny. At the end of March, just as winter lifted, my head’s immune system freaked out in a way that I’ve never previously experienced. The symptoms are fairly ordinary: blocked nose, itchy eyes. But this year, they’ve been particularly acute. I’ve also noticed that the further away I am from the centre of Barcelona, the better I feel. In the end, I decided to test my location theory by travelling to California for a week, just to get away from the airborne tree microgametophytes apparently so prevalent in Barcelona this year. It worked: either San Francisco doesn’t have pollen, or it has a type of pollen that doesn’t get into my poor, wretched eyes. Upon my return to the Capital of the Western Mediterranean, my symptoms resumed.

Pollen in Catalonia

I’m fortunate enough to live in Cerdanyola del Vallès, a town I really like, just outside Barcelona proper. Indeed, I like it so much, I’ll still be living here after we move house next month. I work in the district of Sant Andreu. And I recreate in the fleshpots of Gràcia and Plaça Reial. I’ve noticed that my symptoms have been moderate in Cerdanyola, moderate to strong in Sant Andreu and strong to very strong in the city. And what has the city that’s so special? Why, plane trees, of course! And these apparently trigger the worst allergic reaction in me.

The department of aerobiology at UAB, also here in Cerdanyola, publishes a forecast for different pollen types in Barcelona and across Catalonia. I’ve contacted professor Belmonte, the head of the department to ask if pollen levels this year have been particularly high. I shall update when she responds. In the meantime, I recommend some inert eye drops and the nasal cortisone spray Rhinocort as good remedies against the symptoms. There’s no point going to the CAP for something so easily remedied with over-the-counter potions.

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