Monday, April 10, 2006

Masks and Allergies

Masks and Allergies
Originally uploaded by pookie_san99.
Seems at this time of the year at least a third of the population is wearing some kind of mask.To ward off bird flu? No.The masks are used as protection against hay fever,pollen allergy or kafunsho as the locals say.
After WW2 there was a shortage of timber for building so the government planted vast areas of the Japanese Alps with fast growing sugi or cedar trees.This has led to an unfortunate rise in the number of pollen allergy and hay fever sufferers.
The fine mesh cotton face masks in the photo are thought to help stop the inhalation of pollen by those afflicted.Television screens are full of ads for masks,special mesh doors and close knit clothes said to alleviate the condition.
Common symptoms include a constant runny nose,sore throat and itchy red eyes.
The cedar pollen season runs from February to April though it varies in duration and severity from location to location and year to year.Due to last years weather and rainfall last season was particularly severe compared to the milder season being experienced this year so far.
To compound matters some sufferers also have to deal with the hinoki or Japanese cypress that begins to flower in late April and May.
From talking with various people it seems that being a sufferer isnt a matter of hereditary or genetics.Its possible to go for years being immune and then for no reason be struck down.Conversely it can also disappear for no evident reason which must come as a relief to sufferers as well.In the meantime mask makers and others continue to market their products....

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