Global warming has meant temperature extremes have become the norm, which will have a knock-on effect on pollen levels. In the last century our planet has gone from one of the coldest decades to one of the hottest, something that hasn’t happened in 11,300 years says a new study.
By 2100, temperatures will rise “well above anything we’ve ever seen in the last 11,000 years,” said study co-author Shaun Marcott. At the same time pollen levels are expected to significantly increase.
In research presented last November to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), pollen counts are expected to more than double by 2040. In 2000 the average pollen count was 8,455, by 2040 counts are expected to reach 21,735. Researchers are incorporating various climatic factors in their models including weather patterns, changes in precipitation and temperature.
While pollen counts increase every year, the study found the sneezing season will begin earlier and earlier.
ACAAI allergists recommend allergy sufferers begin treating their symptoms with over-the-counter or prescribed medications two weeks before symptoms usually start. While there isn’t a cure for allergies, immunotherapy is the only treatment that can prevent disease progression. It can also result in health care savings of 41 percent.
“In 2000, annual pollen production began on April 14, and peaked on May 1,” said Dr. Bielory, ACAAI board member and fellow.
“Pollen levels are predicted to peak earlier on April 8, 2040. If allergy sufferers begin long-term treatment such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) now, they will have relief long before 2040 becomes a reality.”
Dealing with an allergy
- Know your triggers. You may think you know that pollen is causing your suffering, but other substances may be involved as well. More than two-thirds of seasonal allergy sufferers actually have year-round symptoms. An allergist can help you find the source of your suffering and treat more than just symptoms.
- Work with your allergist to devise strategies to avoid your triggers, such as:
- Monitor pollen and mold counts — most media report this information during allergy seasons.
- Keep windows and doors shut at home, and in your car during allergy season.
- Stay inside during mid-day and afternoon hours when pollen counts are highest.
- Take a shower, wash hair and change clothing after being outdoors working or playing.
- Wear a mask when doing outdoor chores like mowing the lawn. An allergist can help you find the type of mask that works best.