There’s a reason your ragweed allergies might be acting up more than usual this season – and in those to come.
Researchers at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) have found a link between global warming and longer ragweed seasons, characterized by more concentrated pollen counts than those of seasons past. AAAAI reported this finding in an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), the academy’s official scientific journal.
“There is now a wealth of evidence that climate change has had – and will have – further impact on a variety of allergenic plants,” writes Richard W. Weber, M.D., AAAAI Fellow, AAAAI Aerobiology Committee chairman, and author of the article.
Global warming refers to the steady increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere since the mid-20th century, its resulting effect on global climate patterns, and the expected continuation of this temperature change.
In his article, Weber reports on recent studies that suggest that the earth’s increasing temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are the main culprits responsible for worsening ragweed seasons. Climate change can be linked to "longer pollen seasons, greater exposure, and increased disease burden for late summer weeds, including ragweed,” he states. Weber also cites that the increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have resulted in 61 to 90% increases in pollen production among certain types of ragweed.
Ragweed plants can already produce an estimated 1 billion pollen grains each in an average season. On windy days, the grains can travel nearly 400 miles from their origination points, potentially covering the country completely.
This is rather disappointing news for the roughly 36 million Americans who suffer from a ragweed allergy, the foremost cause of fall allergy symptoms.
So, what’s an allergy-sufferer to do?
AAAAI offers up a few ways to help limit the severity of ragweed allergies, even in the face of uncertain environmental circumstances. The academy advises Americans with ragweed allergy symptoms to:
- Seek medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment if symptoms become severe.
- Habitually check the pollen count daily, and use it as a guideline to plan activities.
- Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
- Keeps doors and windows closed to keep pollen from entering homes and/or cars.
- Change clothing after spending time outdoors, and avoid drying laundry outside.
- Take a shower before bed to wash pollen away from your hair and face and to keep it from ending up on your pillow.
In addition, using a HEPA-grade air purifier can help trap pollen that has traveled into your home, as well as other indoor allergens such as mold spores, pet dander, and dust mites.
Read our Learning Center articles on Air Purifiers and Allergies and Preparing for Allergy Season to learn more about how air purifiers rid the indoor air of irritating allergens and to find out about additional strategies in the fight against seasonal allergy disorders.
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