NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — If you are one of the millions of Americans who struggle with allergies, you may find your symptoms lasting longer and worsening. The culprit? Warmer temperatures, which are leading to a lengthened allergy season and more pollen in the air.
Researchers have discovered that allergy season is lasting longer, and pollen levels are rising throughout North America, with some of the biggest changes happening in the Southeast and the Midwest.
“We found that in general, pollen seasons are starting quite a bit earlier, they’re starting about three weeks earlier than they did in the 1990s,” said William Anderegg, an assistant biology professor at the University of Utah. “And there’s more pollen in the air. So, there’s about 20%, more pollen and the air temperature was the biggest driver.”
The increase in pollen levels and a longer allergy season can exacerbate certain medical conditions, especially in children. “So, pollen is a major driver of allergies and asthma and a lot of respiratory problems, they tend to hit kids quite hard. Childhood asthma is a big concern,” said Anderegg.
Allergies can also impact people in ways they may not expect, according to Anderegg.
“So, it actually affects productivity, it affects school performance. How well kids can do in school and people can do in their jobs, which makes sense. It’s really hard to do well when you’re suffering from these things,” said Anderegg.
Studies have also shown that increasing pollen levels may make you more susceptible to viruses.
“And there’s even some evidence that it may actually affect viral infections that when your respiratory tract is inflamed from pollen, you may be more susceptible to common cold viruses,” said Anderegg, “And a study came out recently suggesting you may be more susceptible to the coronavirus as well.”