The spring allergy season is hitting much of the country especially hard — and researchers are blaming climate change for more intense pollen counts.
There’s been a spike in the number of people suffering seasonal allergies, also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, for the first time, and people in the northeast and south are getting the worst of it, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Every February, Americans hold their collective breath waiting for the announcement. Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? Will winter never end? On February 2, our favorite groundhog saw his shadow and predicted that winter would last 6 more, long cold weeks. And boy, was he right! Across the county the winter just kept going and going.
Luckily, Mother Nature didn’t completely forget about the spring. For large parts of the US, the tree are finally starting to bloom. Temperatures are rising and so are pollen counts. While the sights and sounds of spring are welcomed by most, allergy sufferers find themselves closing the windows and staying indoors.
But what does a late spring mean for allergy sufferers? For many, it means that the spring pollen season may be shorter than in recent years. However, the intensity of the pollen season may be increased as long dormant trees rapidly bloom at the same time. Additionally, the gap between spring tree pollen season and summer grass pollen season may be very short or absent altogether. This can lead to even more heightened response to the grass pollen due a process call ‘immunologic priming’. Simply put immunologic priming means that the longer an allergic person is exposed to pollen, it takes less and less pollen to trigger the same amount of symptoms. As one pollen season bleeds into the next, this priming may lead to even more symptoms and more misery.
So what are allergy sufferers to do? Hope for an eternal winter? Here are some easy tips to minimize the effects of pollen allergy:
1. Don’t sleep with the windows open or drive with the top down during heavy pollen days
2. Wear a mask and goggles when cutting the grass
3. Plan outdoor activities when pollen counts are lower. Pollen counts are typically highest in the early morning and at dusk, so midday may be the best time to be outdoors.
4. Don’t hang the laundry out to dry on high pollen days
5. Take your allergy medications as recommended by your physician
Finally, if allergies are getting in the way of enjoying the beautiful spring weather maybe it’s time to really take control of things and see an Allergy Partners allergist. Allergists are experts in determining exactly what triggers your allergy symptoms and in the art and science of immunotherapy. Unlike medications that just treat allergy symptoms, immunotherapy uses all natural allergen extracts to teach the immune system to tolerate exposure to allergens in the environment. Successful immunotherapy leads to:
60-70% reduction in allergy symptoms with a 70% fall in need for medications
Improved asthma control while reducing need for medications
Reduction of an allergic child’s risk of developing asthma by up to 60%
Reduced risk of developing new allergies
Improved quality of life
Long lasting symptom improvement that persists after the treatment is stopped
So if you want to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather, call your local Allergy Partners physician or visit us at allergypartners.com
By Dr. Bill McCann
Allergy Partners of Western North Carolina
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