Sneezing already? Global warming may be to blame

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 04:24 PM

You may be able to blame global warming for the allergy symptoms that you’re already feeling. This year’s allergy season may be worse due to the mild winter that we have had, and the next few days won’t be any different.
Today we are expecting a medium/high pollen count of 8.4, a medium/high pollen count of 7.4 and a low/medium pollen count of 4.5 on Sunday. The predominant pollens for Thursday were maple, juniper and oak. The concentration of pollen grains in the air for today will be dropping due to the lack of strong winds, but will remain in the high range.
“I have spoken with ear, nose and throat doctors who say that they are noticing spring arriving earlier. It’s most likely due to the warming of the earth because the warmer climate is migrating farther south, so winters are not as cold as they used to be,” Carter said. “North Carolina is known for having really bad allergies. At least 10 months out of the year the state has some type of pollen in the air.”
An allergic reaction begins in the immune system, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E antibodies, which travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
According to a press release from HealthDay.com, a milder winter leads to a longer spring allergy season due to what’s known as the priming effect. The priming effect happens when winter weather turns unexpectedly warm, pollens and molds are released into the air earlier than usual and then die down when it gets cold again. The release goes on to say that the weather pattern can prime a person’s allergic reaction, so when the allergen reappears as the weather gets warm again, allergy symptoms are worse.
Monica Carter, a doctor at Cornerstone Internal Medicine at Westchester, said that she has already seen an increase in allergy symptoms. “Patients are beginning to have symptoms of stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, burning eyes, itchy and popping ears, hearing loss because of the ear pressure, scratchy and itchy throats, and cough,” Carter said. “Some of the patients are even wheezing, sinus pressure and headaches.”
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, can be miserable to both the sufferer and those around them. To reduce the exposure to things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms, there are a few things you can do:
• It is recommended that severe allergy sufferers stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after it rains because it helps clear the pollen from the air. You should delegate mowing and other gardening chores that stir up allergens. If you have to do outside chores, wear a mask.
• Doctors also suggest that you remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair. When pollen counts are extremely high, those who suffer can take their allergy medications before their symptoms start, close doors and windows and avoid outdoor activity in the early morning hours.
• To keep the indoor air clean, run the air conditioning in your house and car using high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules, keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier, use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom and clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
“I have been telling my patients to make sure they have a humidifier and sleep with it on at night, use saline nasal spray, and if you can tolerate the over-the-counter medication, to take that every day,” Carter said.

cdavis@hpe.com | 888-3657