Science and Tech


Why do allergies seem more intense?

Research shows pollen seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer.
Yellow pollen dusts the head of a bee.
Posted at 5:05 PM, Apr 07, 2023

Why is the allergy season getting longer and more intense?

"Some of the trees are starting to pollinate earlier and we've noticed changing weather patterns," said Dr. DeVon Preston, a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic. He works in the allergy and clinical immunology department.

Research funded in part by the USDA in 2022 found pollen seasons start 20 days earlier, and are 10 days longer. There is 21 percent more pollen now than in 1990. The greatest increases were recorded in Texas and the Midwest.

The study suggests that warming is causing plants' internal timing to start producing pollen earlier.

"Some of the studies show that with our increasing temperature across the globe that we are seeing extended growing seasons," said Dr. Mark Montano, the medical director at CareNow Urgent Care.

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"Warmer temperatures, drier days, windier days, we're going to have increased incidence and density of the pollen out there," Dr. Preston said.

Which can mean worse symptoms.

"We do see that allergies tend to be a little more severe," Dr. Montano said.

So what can you do to help the sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes?

"Don't wait until you're miserable before starting treatment," Dr. Montano said. He recommends starting with an over the counter oral antihistamine.

"Be consistent about daily use of the medicines," Dr. Preston said.

Experts also recommend closing the windows in your home, and making sure air filters are working well.

If your allergies worsen, Dr. Preston recommends seeing an allergist. He said there are other conditions that can look and feel like allergies, but aren't allergies.

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