Many people feel that their allergies are getting worse and lasting longer with each passing year, and for good reason. Researchers have found that allergy season is, in fact, growing longer and pollen counts are increasing. In this post, we review the findings of this study, the implications for people with allergies and how you can find relief.
Researchers across the country worked together to examine data collected from 60 North American stations between 1990 and 2018. This amounted to a total of 821 site-years of data. The researchers also used earth system model simulations to quantify the human impact on the climate.
They found that, over the past three decades, pollen seasons have increased an average of 20 days and pollen concentrations – or the amount of pollen in the air at one time – has increased by 21%.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) in February 2021. It is titled “Anthropogenic climate change is worsening North American pollen seasons.”
Implications of These Findings
The changes to pollen season driven by climate change means people with pollen-induced allergies and asthma will suffer from worse symptoms and for a longer duration.
According to the study authors, there has been a significant increase in allergen sensitivity across all age groups in the U.S. More pollen sensitization during childhood means there will later be an increased number of adolescents and adults with allergic asthma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 19.2 million adults and 5.2 million children have been diagnosed with hay fever over the past 12 months in the U.S.
How to Find Relief
An allergist can come up with an allergy management plan customized to your unique needs. Some strategies for managing allergies include:
- Practicing avoidance. You can practice avoidance of pollen by checking weather reports to see when pollen counts are high, staying indoors with the windows closed when counts are high, avoiding drying clothes outside, showering and changing clothes right away after spending time outdoors, wearing sunglasses when visiting Bush’s Pasture Park to protect your eyes and hiring professional landscapers to do your yardwork.
- Taking medications. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays can help prevent or treat symptoms. Be sure to consult with your allergist about how to take these medications safely.
- Getting allergy shots. Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy, are a long-term solution for treating allergies. Allergy shots are administered in two phases: the buildup phase and the maintenance phase. The goal is to no longer experience symptoms after three to five years.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Willamette ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery today.
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