Why Allergy Season Is Longer and Stronger This Year

You’re not imagining it, allergy season is longer and stronger this year. This is bad news for people that have severe seasonal allergies. The increased pollen counts hit many people hard this year.

One study found that between 1990 and 2018 the pollen season went up by 20 days each year. The pollen concentrations in the United States increased by over 20 percent in the same time period. It comes as worse news to many people that the pollen in the air may be more potent and more allergenic.

Environmental Changes

One thing that may be the dominant factor behind changes in pollen season length is climate change. Climate changes caused by humans have wreaked havoc on the pollen seasons. These trends seem to impact people’s respiratory health more each year. Some experts believe climate change may introduce new species of pollen regionally as the plants adapt to the climbing temperatures.

The Lancet Planetary Health journal reports that pollen in the air has increased as average temperatures increased around the world. There have been climbing pollen seasons for over 20 years. This only gets worse as the climate changes faster and faster. Alaska is warming twice as fast as the average global pollen counts. They now face large allergy risks.

Some experts say that there are about 50 million people in America that suffer from allergies. Scientists are trying to figure out how to make the climate factors not affect people suffering from allergies as much. For now, everyone is holding on for the ride as allergies seem to get worse each year.

Regional Differences

If you live in Texas or the midwestern United States, you might be surprised to learn that these are the areas with the most consistent and largest increases in the pollen count. There is no exact reason for this increase. Some believe the plant species found in these locations are highly sensitive to warming trends and tend to produce more pollen.

Covid-19 And Allergies

Many people have trouble knowing if their allergy symptoms are COVID-19 symptoms. Allergy symptoms don’t usually include fever, shortness of breath, and cough. This doesn’t mean people with these symptoms for sure have allergies or the coronavirus. In fact, many people with COVID-19 never show any symptoms. They could have allergies and COVID at the same time. This is why it’s crucial to continue battling your allergies during pandemic times.

The good news to some allergy sufferers is that the pollen changes may have been thrown off last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This forced people to spend more time indoors and wear masks outdoors. They were also washing their hands more frequently. All of these things usually help limit the contact people have with airborne allergens. Exposure is a huge deal with pathogens. The less exposure people have to allergens in the air, the less they are impacted by them.

The Future

Some people believe allergies are going to get worse each year. Researchers estimate that by 2040, the pollen counts will double in many parts of the country. This depends greatly on greenhouse gas emissions in some parts of the world. There is no way to predict the future, but researchers must go on past research of increasing pollen counts each year. This year they’ve already seen a strong increase due to climate change in plants that produce pollen. The pollen seems to be emerging earlier and staying longer. The pollen produced from ragweed is the worst.

Researchers use ragweed to help find the main effects of climate on allergies and pollen because it produces annually. Trees and perennials don’t. By doing so, scientists can separate the variables of how rainfall and winter temperatures influence ragweed pollen the past year.

Impossible To Avoid

Pollen is tough to avoid in most areas. Allergies from pollen happen with the body’s internal radar system gets in a fight with the wrong target. They often cause hives, watery eyes, or itching. Some people actually have life-threatening issues like anaphylaxis. The fine powder of pollen is produced from many different plants and trees. It releases into the air due to signals from precipitation, sunlight, and temperature. The grains can range from 9 microns to 200 microns. Some of these grains of pollen can get deep into your lungs causing irritation. High concentrations will often trigger allergic reactions.

During the spring, many trees will produce pollen. In the summer, the pollen mainly comes from certain types of grass. Ragweed pollen is the highest in the fall. If people suffer from different types of pollen, they might be hit hard with allergies throughout the year.

What To Do

You cannot run away from allergens in the air. It’s important to learn about the pollen(s) that you’re allergic to. Check the pollen counts in the air. Try to limit your exposure to seasonal allergens. The highest pollen counts will be on windy days, so it’s best not to plan an entire day outdoors. Pollen counts are usually the worst in the morning.

It’s also important to keep windows in your home and office closed. When you come in from outside, take a shower. You can also continue to wear a mask outdoors.

Allergy medication helps many patients deal with seasonal allergy issues. If you begin to take your medications a few weeks prior to allergy season, you should see a difference. You should also speak with your doctor to see if allergy shots are an option for you.