20. February 2020
Increasing prevalence of pollen allergy in older age

The incidence of pollen allergy in the elderly is increasing dramatically. Climate change and air pollution are cited as the causes.

An analysis by German health insurer KKH of data from approximately 50,000 insured persons from 2008 to 2018 revealed that one in 20 people aged 45 and over suffers from hay fever.


While the pollen season used to affect mainly children and youth, symptoms now only occur more frequently in late adulthood. A slight decline in pollen allergies was observed in people under the age of 45 insured by KKH. On the other hand, there was nearly 50 per cent more hay fever in the age group 65 to 79 years than ten years ago. Prevalence in people over 80 had more than doubled.

Source: Kaufmännische Krankenkasse, 2020


KKH cites climate change and environmental pollution as the reasons behind the increased prevalence in adulthood. Allergy incidence is on the rise especially in people in urban areas.


The warmer the winter, the earlier the pollen season starts and the longer it lasts. As a result, airborne pollen levels rise and more pollen is inhaled. In addition, environmental pollutants make the pollen more ‘aggressive’ by altering it in such a way that it releases more allergens.


Author: ch/ktg



Is climate change to blame? Increased incidence of pollen allergies in the elderly. Press release from KKH, Hanover, 13 January 2020 (in German).