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Allergies worse than ever? Experts say blame global warming

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Allergies and global warming

If allergies seem worse this year, experts say you can blame it on global warming. Sniffling, sneezing and other symptoms from seasonal allergies, especially for those in living further North, are likely to last three weeks longer from warmer temperatures. Ragweed pollens travel far and is the most common cause of seasonal allergy misery.

Ragweed and other pollens start in mid-August

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), ragweed, the most potent allergy producer, pops up everywhere in mid-August in Eastern and Midwest states.

"When winter weather turns unexpectedly warm, pollens and molds are released into the air earlier than usual, and then die down when it gets cold again," said Stanley Fineman, MD, of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "This pattern of weather can ‘prime' a person's allergic reaction, so when the allergen reappears as the weather gets warm again, the allergy symptoms are worse than ever."

One grain from one ragweed plant can travel 100 miles, causing widespread suffering for allergy sufferers.

Steps to help seasonal allergies

The ACAAI offers tips to help with seasonal allergies that affect one in 10 Americans.

Start medication as soon as allergy season starts. For most, mid-August is the time for intervention, but for those in the Southern region, a bit later.

Keep windows closed at home and in the car to keep ragweed pollen outside.

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Saline nasal rinses can go a long way for curbing sniffling and sneezing from allergies. The simple act of washing pollen from the nose can provide relief.

During allergy season, wash your clothing and change your clothes after spending time outdoors.

Stay indoors mid day and in the afternoon when pollen counts are highest.

Avoid spending time in the garden or mowing if you're sensitive to ragweed pollens. Delegate chores to other family members who are less susceptible to allergens, or consider wearing a mask out of doors.

Continue allergy medication even after pollen counts decline. Allergens can still linger in the air, causing symptoms.

Consider allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. According to allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, past president of ACAAI, “Allergy shots can not only reduce allergy symptoms and medication use, it can prevent the development of asthma and the development of other allergies.”

Experts say global warming is likely to extend allergy season by three weeks. The tips offered by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology can help reduce symptoms that include itching eyes, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and in some cases, wheezing and asthma symptoms.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons



Why this now? The GLOBE stopped warming a decade ago. To find out what caused the global temperature run-up in the 20th century, Google 'sunspot "time integral"'