Allergy season is bad this year in Michigan. And it’s going to get worse
Just as Michiganders take off their face masks, it’s allergy season. There’s more pollen in the air this year than in the past.
And it’s going to get worse. Climate change is making pollen seasons longer and exacerbating allergy symptoms.
One recent study found that climate change caused by humans is worsening pollen seasons in North America. Another report published in 2016 by the University of Michigan found that warmer temperatures and increased heavy rainstorms in Michigan caused by climate change can result in an earlier and longer growing season and therefore higher pollen levels that worsen allergy and asthma symptoms.
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President of the Michigan Allergy & Asthma Society and allergist Jennifer DeMore said that although allergies are often dismissed, they can have significant impact on people’s quality of life.
“That's part of why we really want to get good control of it because not only can it affect their symptoms but also affect other health in terms of asthma and even other conditions,” DeMore said. “We don't want to see pollen season lengthening even more (when) already people have been struggling with their symptoms.”
One of the most common allergies this time of year is seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is caused by allergic sensitivity to pollen from trees, grasses, weeds or airborne mold-spores. Symptoms can include sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose and watery eyes.
DeMore said not only are pollen seasons lengthening, but that some plants, like ragweed, which wreak havoc in Michigan in August and September, are releasing more pollen than before. And we have only ourselves to blame.
“As CO2 gases have risen, these ragweeds can even release more pollen than it used to. So not only are we seeing longer season (for pollen) but even the plants themselves are more potent.”
DeMore said to cope with lengthening allergy seasons, she recommends showering and washing your hair after being outside to rid yourself of the pollen, and keeping windows closed in your house and car. She also said there are a number of medications such as antihistamines, nose sprays and even injections if the symptoms are bad enough.
And as allergy seasons lengthen, Michiganders in the future will likely need to increase the amount of medication needed to stop the sneezing.
“Good news, for the most part, allergy medications are pretty well tolerated,” DeMore said. “But certainly, we want to control the allergies as best we can with the least amount of medications as possible for good symptom control and good overall health control”.
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