While some people associate hay fever with a case of the springtime sniffles, for many it has major consequences. In addition to causing discomfort, seasonal allergies can exacerbate asthma, weaken your defense against respiratory viruses and even require a visit to the emergency room.
Unfortunately, a new study that examined nearly three decades worth of data has revealed that climate change is making pollen season worse for allergy sufferers in the U.S. and Canada. In other words, pollen seasons are growing longer and more extreme.
About the Study
The study was published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Researchers examined data collected by 60 monitoring stations across North America between 1990 and 2018. They found that in that time, pollen seasons began to start about 20 days earlier and lasted up to eight days longer.
In addition, there was an increase in the amount of pollen in the air throughout the season, a rise of 20.9% between when the data started and finished being collected.
According to study authors, “Our results reveal that anthropogenic climate change has already exacerbated pollen seasons in the past three decades with attendant deleterious effects on respiratory health.”
In other words, it’s clear that climate change is directly impacting certain aspects of our health.
Who Is Most Impacted?
While researchers expected to see a larger pollen increase in northern states, this was not the case. Instead, the most consistent and significant increases were in Texas and the Midwest. While climate scientists aren’t exactly sure why, they hypothesize that plant species native to those areas may be especially sensitive to warming, which is why they are producing more pollen.
An estimated 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children have been diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months. Whether you’re one of this number or have been suffering from seasonal allergies for years, there are ways to find relief.
How Is Hay Fever Treated?
Many can successfully manage their allergies with over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestant nasal sprays. However, for some, this isn’t enough.
A long-term solution recommended by allergists is immunotherapy, which works by introducing your body to allergens in small dosages so your immune system builds a tolerance. Immunotherapy is available in both allergy shot and allergy drop/tablet form. If you’re ready to enjoy Enchanted Forest again without worrying about an allergy attack, call the experts at Willamette Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery today.