Methods: Data were obtained from our department in Athens, between October 1994 and September 2014 (240 months). We evaluated all AE occurring this period for patients allergic only to pollens, according to the results of skin prick testing. A positive SPT was defined as a wheal size at least 3 mm greater than the negative control. AE were defined as a deterioration in asthma resulting in an unscheduled visit (i.e patient-initiated) leading to change in asthma treatment or the need for oral steroids for>3 days and/or emergency room visit/hospitalization. Data are presented as monthly averages of these years of combined data, as a percent above (+) or below (-) the average monthly value (%) for the 240 months under study.
Results: There were 1.723 AE (1.099 in males, 624 in females) in 1.219 asthmatic patients (798 males, 421 females). From 1.723 AE, 218 were identified in patients 0-14 years, 615 in patients 15-29 years, 600 in patients 30-44 years and 290 in patients >45 years. The results by month, AE number and percent above or below an average monthly value (%) were respectively the following:January-54-(-62.3%), February-45-(-68.6%), March-93-(-35.1%), April-230-(+60.4%), May-826-(+476%), June-192-(+33.9%), July-60-(-58.1%), August-37-(-74.2%), September-43-(-70%), October-53-(-63%), November-51-(-64.4%), December-39-(-72.8%)
Conclusion: These findings suggest that AE in the Athens region have a clear cut seasonal (monthly) variation in patients allergic to pollens. An increase in AE occurred in three months (April, May, June) and a decrease in the rest of the months. It is of great interest to note that especially in May occurred a huge increase (peak) in AE (+476%) in patients allergic to pollens (May epidemic). This study suggests that aeroallergens (pollens) can exacerbate asthma, especially in May, in Greece and the results may offer significant opportunities for improved disease management.