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Increased Pollen Levels In The US Causes People With Seasonal Allergies To Be On Alert

People in the U.S. who suffer from seasonal allergies must be on alert to the rising pollen levels now that Spring began last Monday, March 20. Seasonal allergies are one of the most common allergies affecting American lives and depending on where you live, it could influence the pollen count. Therefore, keeping informed on the pollen levels and learning how to reduce your exposure to pollen will help you create a treatment plan to reduce allergy symptoms.

Spring season is characterized by its warm and wet weather. Also, it’s a time when seeds take root and plants begin to grow. As a result, pollen grains from trees, grass, and weeds are produced, distributed, and present in the air.

“Spring is creeping up fast in the United States, and that means warmer weather is on the horizon after a rough end to winter in some locations,” said AccuWeather staff writer Allison Finch. “Still, for those who suffer from seasonal allergies, there may only be a few weeks left in some parts of the country before allergens kick into full gear.”

The 2023 spring allergy forecast by AccuWeather explains how pollen circulates more on warm, windy, and dry days than on rainy and windless days, causing an increase in allergy symptoms. For that reason, regions that have warm weather will be susceptible to high pollen levels.

According to Climate Control, the spring season, or growing season, in North America has been getting longer since 1970. For example, from 1990 to 2018, the pollen season extended for an average of 20 days, and became more intense with a 21% increase in pollen concentrations.

Climate change has caused changes in the growing seasons, leading to longer pollen seasons and higher pollen counts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “pollen is an airborne allergen that can affect our health.” Therefore, people who have pollen or other allergens have to endure health effects for longer than before.

The report published by The U.S CDC called Diagnosed Allergic Conditions in Adults: United States, 2021, describes the prevalence of allergens among adults, specifically seasonal, eczema or food allergies.

“In 2021, nearly one-third of adults aged 18 and over had a diagnosed seasonal allergy, eczema, or food allergy,” said Amanda E. Ng, M.P.H., and Peter Boersma, M.P.H. “Overall, seasonal allergy was the most common of the three allergies, with about one-quarter (25.7%) of adults having a diagnosed seasonal allergy, followed by eczema (7.3%) and food allergy (6.2%).”

An allergy is created when the body’s immune system elicits a solid response to a normally harmless substance for a dangerous invader. Furthermore, the immune system has memory cells that keep records of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated and produces antibodies that remain alert for when you're exposed to that allergen again. These antibodies release chemicals, like histamine, that can cause allergy symptoms.

Some examples of allergy symptoms are a stuffy and runny nose, red and watery eyes, and itchy nose, ears, and mouth. These are also symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis, often called ‘hay fever.’

“About 81 million people in the U.S. have seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is most often caused by pollen allergies,” said President and CEO of The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Kenneth Mendez. “If we don’t take immediate action on the climate crisis, pollen production will only intensify. This means more allergy and asthma attacks and additional strain on our health systems.”

AAFA is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergies. Moreover, AAFA releases an annual Allergy Capitals report that helps people identify, prevent, and cope with their seasonal allergies.

In this year’s report they discuss pollen allergy effects on an individual’s well-being, climate change impacts on the environment, ways people can manage pollen allergies, and communities that are heavily impacted with seasonal allergies. For example, the AAFA ranked cities for pollen allergies based on the tree, grass, and weed pollen scores, over-the-counter medicine use, and the availability of board-certified allergists or immunologists.

The data used in the AAFA’s 2023 Allergy Capitals report is gathered from the 100 most-populated U.S. metropolitan areas. They discovered that seasonal allergies fall heavily in eastern and southern parts of America. This year, Wichita, Kansas, ranked number 1 on the list of the most challenging places to live with pollen allergies, with a total score of 100.00.

“I always say live with Mother Nature, enjoy all the benefits, but do it wisely,” said allergist and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, Dr. Cliff Basset, to AccuWeather. “Always check your weather and check your pollen count to know what the pollen count is near you.”

People who suffer from seasonal allergies can manage their symptoms with self-care and consulting with a doctor to create a treatment plan. A treatment plan can include minimizing your exposure to pollen by checking the pollen counts and forecast daily, keeping all doors and windows closed when there is a high pollen count, and changing and washing your clothes after any outdoor activities. Also, you can take over-the-counter prescriptions up to a few weeks before your allergy season begins, to help prevent and treat any allergy symptoms.

In conclusion, now that Spring has brought upon an onset of warm weather and an increase in pollen circulation in the air, people who suffer from seasonal allergies must take the necessary actions to create the best treatment plan to have the best quality of life while dealing with allergies.

Images are provided by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Edited By: Whitney Edna Ibe

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