Spring is in the air, and so is pollen and other tiny particles that can make your eyes itch and your nose run.
“It’s a bad time for allergies,” said Kathleen Slonager, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said Wednesday. “But climate change is making the situation worse.”
Slonager, a nurse, added that allergy seasons are spring and fall.
But now they start earlier, last longer and affect more people.
“More people will start showing allergy symptoms than they ever had in the past,” she said. “It’s the immune system, isn’t it? You can’t take that much. Anecdotally, more and more people are talking about how their allergies are worse.”
And on top of that, with the rise in COVID-19 cases, it might be hard to tell without testing if your symptoms are the result of allergies, a cold, the flu, or the coronavirus.
One key difference: Unlike COVID-19 or the flu, allergy symptoms typically don’t include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. And allergies are triggered by allergens such as pollen, grass or animal dander.
Effects of climate change
Earlier this year, climatologists at the University of Michigan looked at 15 different plant pollens in the United States and used computer simulations to calculate how likely the allergy season will get worse by the year 2100.
So take this:
Last year, Dr. Kathleen Dass, allergist, immunologist and medical director of the Michigan Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center in Oak Park, said it was one of the worst allergy seasons she had ever seen.
And according to the research, each successive year could be so.
After:Climate change will make the pollen season more unpleasant and start earlier
After:Hay fever sets in? Here are the 20 worst cities for people with seasonal allergies.
As the world heats up, scientists have discovered that allergy season will start weeks earlier and end days later – and it will be worse while it lasts, with pollen levels that could rise triple in some places, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communication.
Additionally, carbon dioxide in the air from burning fuels such as coal, gasoline, and natural gas helps plants produce more pollen. Allergists say that pollen season in the United States used to start around St. Patrick’s Day and now often starts around Valentine’s Day.
Allergies are particularly difficult for the 25 million Americans with asthma.
How to find relief
So what can you do to relieve your allergy symptoms?
the Mayo Clinica nonprofit American academic medical center based in Minnesota, advocates a variety of strategies, including reducing exposure to allergy triggers, using the air conditioner, taking over-the-counter medications, and seeing a specialist.
To reduce your exposure: Stay indoors, especially on dry, windy days. Rain helps remove pollen from the air. Avoid mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and other gardening tasks that stir up allergens.
Close doors and windows when pollen counts are high. Use a high-efficiency portable air filter in your bedroom. Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter.
Take off any clothes you’ve worn outside and take a shower to rinse the pollen from your skin and hair.
If you must be near pollen, wear a face mask.
Over-the-counter remedies can help, such as oral antihistamines – Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin and Alavert – which relieve sneezing, itching, stuffy or runny nose and watery eyes, and corticosteroid nasal sprays, such as Flonase , Rhinocort and Nasacort.
Oral decongestants, such as Sudafed, may also help.
The Mayo Clinic also suggests talking to your doctor about prescriptions and other treatments, such as allergy shots. Regular injections containing small amounts of the substances that cause your allergies can help reduce the immune system’s reaction.
Some people eventually develop a tolerance to allergens.
Slonager said that as a child she suffered from allergies. But as she got older, her body became more tolerant of anything that irritated her immune system and she said they didn’t make her as sick anymore.
She has also taken steps to eliminate allergens from her environment and improve her immune system through rest, exercise and good nutrition.
“I no longer have any allergies and I no longer take medication,” she said. “It’s an important question to raise. People think the first thing to do is turn to drugs, but you have to step back and look at everything.”
Free press archives contributed. Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
#Michigans #seasonal #allergies #worsen #symptoms #mistaken #COVID19