Spring has arrived in the U.S., bringing along a slew of seasonal allergies. Experts suggest that the 2015 allergy season could be more severe in comparison to previous years.
When plants and trees start to bloom, pollen is released into the air, affecting millions of people. The most common seasonal allergy is rhinitis or hay fever, which is triggered by pollen from grasses, trees and weed. About 35 million Americans are affected with hay fever each year.
This year, people who are allergic should prepare themselves well for itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Experts hint that even though the allergy season could be worse than previous years, the season is expected to be a little shorter than normal.
Dr. Tanya Laidlaw, director of Translational Research in Allergy at Brigham and Women's Hospital, says that the classic oak, birch and maple that are responsible for many spring allergy symptoms will pollinate later than normal this year. This late pollination will cut short allergies by a few days or a week.
Dr. Laidlaw also explains that the wet winter months are responsible for the arrival of possibly the worst allergy season that people could experience.
"The trees are really primed for a heavy pollen season so we expect that the pollen counts will be as high, if not higher than usual," Laidlaw said. "The days of symptoms might actually be more severe," added Dr. Laidlaw.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director and founder of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, suggests that global warming and its result on the weather are important factors in allergy seasons being intense, as seen in the past few years. The trend could continue this year as well.
Increased carbon dioxide and climate changes result in the growth of pollen, which is bad news for allergy sufferers.
"With this carbon dioxide prevalence, we think certain pollens will be more prevalent and more potent, which is a very major factor," said Dr. Bassett.
Experts believe that employing preventive measures before the onset of spring allergies is even better than actually treating the allergies. Dr. Laidlaw recommends allergy sufferers start taking their allergy medication a few days before the onset of the allergy season.
Some experts also tell people to avoid opening windows at home and in cars; to use air conditioning instead to escape pollen allergy; and to avoid going outdoors for long periods of time. However, with the pleasant weather, people may also want to go out and enjoy the season.
Photo: Tina Franklin | Flickr