Yes, allergy season feels worse this year. Here’s why, according to an allergy doctor.

  • Climate change has made seasonal allergies increasingly common in the US and around the world.
  • Pollen counts are expected to increase 200% by the end of the century.
  • Allergy season is also getting longer each year, so more people have symptoms.

Do you feel like your allergies are worse than ever this year? Well, it’s not just your imagination.

More than 25 million Americans experience itchy eyes, runny nose, and other allergy symptoms caused by seasonal pollenaccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number has been on the rise in recent decades, fueled by rising pollen counts and longer warm seasons. Dr Clifford Bassettmedical director of New York Asthma and Allergy Carehe told Insider. Bassett, a clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, said pollen counts have risen about 20% over the past three decades, according to a study published in 2021, thanks to climate change.

That number is projected to rise 200% by the end of the century, according to a study published in Nature in 2022. The authors predicted that people with pre-existing allergies or respiratory problems may find their symptoms becoming more severe, and more people will develop seasonal allergies in the coming decades.

People with asthma may also experience more severe symptoms as environmental irritants increase, and more of them will need medication to manage their health, Morgan McFall-Johnson previously reported for Well-informed person.

Climate change and pollution are making allergies worse

Plants use carbon dioxide., a “greenhouse gas”, to carry out photosynthesis and produce sugars that fuel its growth. Between mild temperatures and rising CO2 levels, plants have been producing more pollen than ever before, according to a 2016 report published by Environmental Health Perspective.

The main source of carbon emissions: the extraction and burning of fossil fuels — also contributes to general air pollution and global warming. Bassett told Insider that various contaminants can interact with pollen in the airwhich could worsen the severity of allergy symptoms.

On top of that, decades of global warming have allowed a early start to allergy season. “Every spring since the 1940s, allergy season starts earlier and ends later,” Bassett said, giving your eyes, nose and throat more time to be exposed and irritated.

In fact, allergy season has been extended by up to 20 days a year, which means there’s a bigger window in which people can experience symptoms.

Longer allergy seasons can have serious consequences for people at risk

Normally, different types of trees produce pollen at different times of the year. But a longer allergy season also means multiple plant species are producing pollen at the same time, which could “multiply the misery” for those with allergies, according to 2022. Nature study.

Asthma, which can be triggered by pollen and pollutants, is most prevalent among racial minorities and families living below the poverty line. Historically, discriminatory housing policies have relegated minorities to poorly ventilated buildings in areas with high levels of pollution, increasing the risk of respiratory problems, especially during longer allergy seasons, according to Central Climate.

Bassett recommends allergy sufferers be proactive for example, talking to a specialist about medicines, investing in products like air filtersand avoiding known triggers, even before you experience symptoms. Doing so can help strengthen your nasal lining against allergens, she said, increasing your chances for a more pleasant allergy season.

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