Asthma caused by pollens, house plants and dried flowers


Occupations
  • Agronomist
  • ESPARTO Industry
  • Florist
  • Gardner
  • Horticulturist
  • Landscape gardner
  • Pharmacist

Agents
Amaryllis pollen, Beetroot pollen, Carnation, Diplotaxis erucoides, Esparto, Grass pollens, Gypsophila pollen, Jasmin pollen, Lathyrus odoratus pollen, Liliaceae, Lime tree pollen, Limonium tataricum, Paprika pollen, Phoenix pollen, Pyrethrum Pollen, Rapseed Pollens, Stathiphyllum, Stephanotis, Strawberry pollen, Sunflower pollen, Tulip, Weeping fig (ficus benjamina).

Incidence
Directly related to the number of atopic subjects in the work force. IgE-dependent mechanism.
 
Conditions
Employees working in intensive culture greenhouses (especially jasmine). Agricultural research workers (especially sunflowers) and all persons whose job brings them into contact with plants: florists (tulips) and the esparto industry (Stipa tenacissima). The allergens are the pollens but the leaves, bulbs and seeds may also be involved. Work in greenhouses can increase the risk as compared with work in the open air.
 
Pollens of the cruciferous family are also the cause of sensitisations in cultivation areas. For example, Diplotaxis erucoides or wall rocket, may cause asthma in wine-growers. Pollination of this crucifera plant occurs between March and April in between the vines. Other crucifera plants may also be implicated in different agricultural practices such as Brassica oleifera in rapeseed cultivation.
 
Farmers may also become sensitised to the mould Aspergillus Niger if it contaminates the crops.
 
Symptoms
In general, pollen induced asthma is typically associated with episodes of coryza. Symptoms occur due to the specific pollen present in the work place outside of the natural pollen season. Asthma can be caused by preparation of bouquets of dried flowers, cleaning leaves (ficus) or pruning (stathiphyllum). Gardeners may experience asthma attacks whilst mowing lawns (aerosol of grass pollen allergens). The phoenix plant can cause contact urticaria and asthma.
 
Urticaria of the forearms is on the increase. In 2001, a case of Hypersensitivity pneumonitis and extrinsic allergic alveolitis was described following contact with Stipa tenacissima (Esparto grass).
 
Diagnostic methods
Skin prick test and bronchial provocation test (in hospital).
 
RAST/CAP RAST depending upon the pollen in question.

References

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As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.