Are trees, plants, weeds and moulds the friends or the foe of nurses? This article gives an overview of the benefits and disadvantages of having them around us. It offers practical tips and advice on preventing health issues and maximising wellbeing. A list of resources is given for those wanting to explore further.
When we consider the negative features of trees, plants and moulds, the first thing most nurses think about is allergy, which is common and problematic. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by airborne allergens from grasses, trees, weeds, plants and outdoor moulds which are wind, rather than insect, pollinated.
Typical allergic rhinitis is characterised by a runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis is often accompanied by allergic asthma and eczema may be triggered by contact with certain plants. Postnasal drip from rhinitis can also trigger asthma.
The first principle of treating pollen and spores allergy is avoidance. Patients can use symptom diaries to identify the months in which they get symptoms. This can be compared to pollen calendars to help identify the likely pollens that they are allergic to. Box 1 summarises the main advice to reduce symptoms.