Coping with Allergy Season
Though most of us are still shivering under our kotatsus, spring is on its way, and with it, allergy season. Known as kafunshou (花粉症) in Japanese—literally translated as symptoms of flower powder—hay fever is a common allergy that many people suffer from during the early spring months.
In Japan the main cause of hay fever comes from various types of the Japanese Cedar tree (sugi), a type of cyprus tree, which is found abundantly all over Japan. The sugi tree starts to pollinate from January, peaking in February, while another variety of cyprus tree (hinoki) can pollinate through May, leaving those unfortunate souls who suffer from both types sneezing and sniffing for a number of months. Because the sugi and hinoki pollen are unique to Japan, even those who have been saved from allergies to ragweed pollen, common in North America, may find themselves reacting to these new forms of air-borne pollen.
The best way to help with symptoms of hay fever is to avoid complete contact with the allergens, which is not so easily done for most of us. In Japan, it’s easy to find the surgical face masks worn for colds, but they are also useful as a divider between you and the allergen--perhaps not the most stylish option, but worth the sacrifice. Investing in an air filter may help you breathe easier, and make sure your windows are shut. After coming in from the outside, take a moment to brush off your outer layer or throw them in the laundry. When doing laundry, don’t hang your clothes (or futon) outside to dry in case any air borne pollen finds its way onto your clean clothes.
Under the National Health Insurance plan, a first visit to the clinic should be covered and a reasonable cost of around 2000 yen incurred for some tablets and/or nasal spray. Nasal spray and surgical facemasks can also be found regularly in convenience stores and supermarkets as well.
Here are a few common symptoms of kafunsho and how to say them in Japanese.
・Sneezing （kushami ga deru）
・Runny nose (hanamizu ga deru)
・Blocked or congested nose (hana ga tsumaru)
・Red eyes/bloodshot eyes (me ga juketsu suru)
・Watery eyes (namidame)
・Itchy eyes（me ga kayui）
・Dry throat / itchy throat (nodo ga kawaku / nodo ga kayui)
・Itchy ears (mimi ga kayui)
・Headache (zutsu ga suru)
・Disturbed sleep/loss of sleep (suimin-shogai/ suimin busoku)
・Hay Fever (kafunsho)
・Ear, nose and throat clinic (jibi-in-koka)
・Nasal Spray (tenbi-yaku)