More insight into pollen allergies in Switzerland.
Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH and University Hospital Zurich (USZ) are launching the free smartphone app Ally Science. It forms part of the largest ever scientific study into pollen allergies to be carried out in Switzerland. The easy-to-use app, available in all four national languages and English, allows allergy sufferers to keep a record of their condition. Users also receive pollen forecasts and an exclusive representation of the current development of allergy symptoms in the different regions. By taking part in the study, they play a vital role in improving early warning systems and therapies for pollen allergy sufferers in the future. The data that is recorded by the app is stored in private accounts on the secure MIDATA IT platform developed by ETH Zurich and the BFH. The users can decide for themselves at any time which researchers they want to grant access to their anonymised data.
Approximately two million people in Switzerland suffer from physical complaints during the pollen season. These include stinging eyes, runny nose, itchy skin, sore throat and breathing difficulties. It is not yet known which regions (cantons, urban and rural areas) exhibit particularly frequent or severe cases of symptoms, or which factors (pollen variety, fine dust, weather, etc.) are influential. The Allergy Station of the Dermatology Clinic of University Hospital Zurich hopes to find answers to these questions through a scientific study spanning every region in Switzerland.
The aim of research with « Ally Science »
The idea behind the Ally Science app is to create a platform for studies investigating pollen allergies in Switzerland.
In an initial phase of the project, we set out to answer several important questions on this subject. Firstly, we want to establish how many people in Switzerland experience allergic symptoms, which symptoms are the most common, which of these are already being treated and which allergies have been professionally diagnosed in the app users. Another interesting question in this regard is the distribution of allergy-sufferers in Switzerland, in terms of which regions (cantons, town, country) exhibit particularly frequent or severe cases of allergy complaints.
In due course, we will investigate which links can be identified between actual data on pollen count and air pollutant levels and the symptoms reported at the same time. This requires real-time data for pollen and air pollutants. Our partner, MeteoSwiss, will be able to provide this real-time data in the near future.
We hope that pollen allergy sufferers in particular will benefit from these new early warning systems for pollen and pollutants. We also have plans to conduct studies on reactions to indoor allergens, including the prevalent house dust mite allergy, as well as the less common allergies to animal hair and mould spores. In addition, we want to investigate whether people with these allergies would benefit from a higher indoor air quality, achieved using air purifiers.
Prof. Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier, Head of the USZ Allergy Station