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Allergy season is early this year | Health News

Allergy season is early this year | Health News



Iceberg melting. Forest fire. Extinction of species. What do they all have in common? Climate change has been shown to be one of the main causes of the aforementioned situation. Believe it or not, seasonal allergies may also be worsening due to climate change. Warmer weather is making allergy seasons longer and more severe. Many parts of our country are already seeing a spike in allergy cases due to early high temperatures.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 80 million people suffer from runny noses, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms. The severity of symptoms people experience depends on what they're allergic to and where they live. For example, in Chicago, tree pollen levels were already reaching “moderate” levels in mid-February.

Seasonal allergies are usually caused by airborne allergens such as grass, weeds, tree pollen, and mold spores. However, you can prevent seasonal allergies by doing the following:

  1. Stay indoors during peak pollen periods (usually morning and evening).

  2. Close windows and use air conditioning with clean filters to reduce indoor allergens.

  3. After going outdoors, take a shower and change your clothes to remove pollen from your skin and clothes.

  4. Use a saline nasal rinse to remove allergens from your nasal passages.

  5. Consider taking over-the-counter antihistamines or other allergy medications as directed by your doctor.

Taking these steps can reduce your exposure to allergens and reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that people of any particular race or ethnicity are more prone to seasonal allergies. However, socio-economic factors, access to healthcare, and environmental conditions can influence the prevalence and severity of allergies in different populations. For example, living in an older home can increase exposure to mold that can cause allergy symptoms.

Seasonal allergies are primarily caused by three types of allergens. The main culprit in early spring is tree pollen. Grass is then pollinated, followed by weeds in late summer and early fall. Allergic reactions begin in the immune system. When people who are allergic to pollen encounter pollen, their immune system may overreact and produce antibodies that attack the allergen. This causes itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and wheezing.

Seasonal allergies have a significant financial impact on individuals and society. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergies cost the U.S. health care system an estimated $18 billion annually. This includes costs associated with doctor visits, medications, allergy testing, and emergency room visits due to severe allergic reactions.

In addition to medical costs, seasonal allergies can also lead to indirect costs such as reduced productivity at work or school due to symptoms such as fatigue and congestion. Allergies can also increase your risk of developing other health conditions, such as asthma and sinus infections. Some people have severe allergy symptoms that require them to take intermittent family medical leave to protect their jobs.

For some people, allergy season arrives at the beginning of the year. Be prepared by meeting with your health care provider as soon as possible to develop a prevention and treatment plan.

Dennis Fuchs Anderson, MD, FAAFP is a family physician. You can contact her at: [email protected]




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