Spring allergy season leaves many Americans feeling miserable.
“People complain about symptoms being more intense than ever,” said Neeta Ogden, M.D. of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
According to a recent study, co-authored by Allison Steiner, pollen season is going to get longer and even more intense as a result of climate change.
“We looked at how pollen was changing and tried to understand its response to temperature, precipitation and higher CO2 concentrations,” said Steiner. “When we look at just including things like temperature and rain, we found that the pollen emissions increased by about 16 to 40 percent over the U.S.”
But if global carbon dioxide emissions continue as they are now, the U.S. could face up to a 200 percent increase in total pollen in the next 100 years. Previously published research reveals that in North America from 1990 to 2018 pollen seasons lengthened by 20 days and pollen concentrations increased by 21 percent.
Allergist Dr. Neeta Ogden says existing patients are experiencing more severe reactions and there’s also an uptick I new patients.
“That’s one of the biggest things that allergists see now, are people who are in their 30s and 40s and 50s and are first time allergy sufferers,” said Ogden.
So what can Americans do to protect themselves from longer, more severe allergy seasons? Check the air quality index every day in your local area.
“You want to look and see if the pollen count is high that day. It’s going to inform sort of how you wear a hat, maybe sunglasses, protect yourself from the pollen, a mask, you know, have your medication depending on what you take with you if you need extra.”
Although there are ways to mitigate symptoms, the impacts of climate change on allergy season are a cause for concern. Experts say allergies not only put some severe sufferers in the hospital, but also affect people’s daily lives in terms of productivity and quality of sleep.