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Kafunsho: If you become allergic to pollen

Louis is a graduate student at a Japanese university. He visits his advisor, Professor Miyata, to ask questions about his paper.

Louis

Hello, Miyata-sensei. I’ve got some questions about my paper…a choo!
Prof. Miyata
Are you o.k.? Here is a tissue if you need one.

Louis

Thank you. I have been sneezing and having a runny nose for the last few days. My eyes are itchy too.

Prof. Miyata

That sounds like you might have kafunsho, or pollen allergy. Do you know anything about kafunsho?

Louis

I have heard of it but don’t know much.

Prof. Miyata

Kafunsho is caused by the pollen of plants and trees. It is common not only in Japan but also in the United States and Europe. Pollen from cedar, cypress, ragweed, rice, and many other plants could trigger kafunsho. A majority of kafunsho patients in Japan are suffering from cedar pollen allergy. Kafunsho is very common nationwide.

Louis

So are my symptoms common for kafunsho?

Prof. Miyata

Runny nose and itchy eyes are typical symptoms of kafunsho. Coughs and skin problems are also seen among some patients. The typical season for kafunsho is spring and fall, although it may be different depending on types of allergen, or the source of allergic reaction. In Japan, kafunsho is a seasonal topic of conversation in spring because cedar pollen, which a large number of kafunsho patients are allergic to, is very heavy in the air from February through May.

Louis

I have been in Japan for three years and I was fine until last year.

Prof. Miyata

People often start developing kafunsho problem suddenly in one season, and once you become allergic, it is likely that you continue to suffer from it in coming seasons.

Louis asks Prof. Miyata how to ease uncomfortable kafunsho symptoms.

Louis

Is there any medicine available for kafunsho?
Prof. Miyata
Many kafunsho patients see doctors and get prescription drugs. You should see an otorhinolaryngologist or allergy specialist. Some clinics and hospitals have a department exclusively for outpatients of pollen allergy. You may also consult your family doctor. It is best that you begin appropriate treatment as soon as possible before the symptoms get worse.

Louis

What would you suggest that I should do to protect myself from pollen?
Prof. Miyata
The most important thing for pollen allergy patients is to avoid inhaling, being exposed to, and bringing in pollen particles. Wearing a surgical mask, glasses, or goggles when you go out will help. It is also good for you to wash away pollens as soon as you come home by washing face and gargling. Don’t forget to dust off the pollen from your clothes and hair before entering your home.

Louis

Wearing a surgical mask and goggles! No one wears such things on a street in Brazil. I have never worn a mask in my life either.

Prof. Miyata

It is very common in Japan to wear a surgical mask in public, especially when you have a cold.

Louis

Wouldn’t it make it hard to breathe?

Prof. Miyata

You may feel strange at first, but it won’t choke you so don’t worry.

Louis

I guess I just have to get used to it. I will go ahead and buy one to try on. I will also see a doctor as soon as possible. I just want to focus on my paper. Thank you so much for your advice, sensei.

Prof. Miyata

You are always welcome. Take good care of yourself.