Allergies May Get Worse, Thanks to Climate Change
Another storm is brewing. This one won’t only hit the southern US, western South America or Southeast Asia. It will travel across the globe; seasonal for some and a daily thing for others. Oh, and it might just be courtesy of climate change. What kind of storm am I talking about? Simply, an allergy storm and it’s heading your way.
Okay, so maybe that was a bit over the top, but in all seriousness, research conducted in Italy suggests that the increasing temperatures are causing the pollen season to last for a longer period of time. This increases the pollen load of some plants (including trees), which in turn has caused a rise in the number of people developing pollen allergies.
Study author and director of the allergy service at Italy’s Bordighera Hospital, Dr. Renato Ariano, has studied pollen for almost 30 years. To be more specific, he and his colleagues recorded pollen counts, the length of pollen seasons, and how sensitive people are to the 5 main pollens of the Bordighera region: birch, cypress, grass, olive, and parietaria.
One time period in particular really caught the attention of the researchers. From 1981 to 2007, they noticed that the pollen season was starting earlier than usual. The most notable case of this was the parietaria, which had a pollen season that started 80 days earlier at the end of the study period than it did at the beginning. During this time, the researchers also performed skin prick testing on local residents to study their levels of sensitivity to the 5 pollens. According to fellow study author, Dr. Giovanni Passalacqua:
“We observed a constant increase of the percentage of subjects sensitized to olive, parietaria and cypress; whereas the percentage of subjects sensitized to dust mites remained unchanged over 27 years.”
What does this mean for you? Well, if you have allergies—especially pollen-related—you may have to start taking those medications sooner and for a longer period of time. It also means that your allergies may get worse. If they do, your best bet would be to contact your doctor.
By Heidi Marshall