Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION: Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like my allergies are coming sooner, lasting longer and getting worse every year! — Amanda Y., Tampa, Fla.
ANSWER: You’re not alone in thinking your seasonal allergies are worse than in years past. As a result of global warning, there’s more pollen and it’s more potent! The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says, “Between 1995 and 2011, warmer temperatures in the U.S. have caused the pollen season to be 11 to 27 days longer.”
Other experts have also found that climate change is promoting more allergies. A 2012 paper presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimated that pollen counts will triple from 2000 to 2040. The Union of Concerned Scientists states, “Carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that is the primary cause of our warming planet, increases the growth rate of many plants and increases the amount and potency of pollen.” One study from Maryland showed that weeds that grow 5 to 6 feet tall in the rural countryside were 10 to 20 feet tall in downtown Baltimore! A-a-a-choo!
Most recently, a study by researchers at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health that was published in the journal PLOS One showed how “climate change driven ecological changes are directly linked to allergic disease burden in the United States.” They used satellite data collected by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to make that finding.
No, Amanda, you and 25 million other wheezy, sneezy Americans are not imagining that your allergies are worsening. Our advice?
>> Get to your pharmacy for OTC sinus-relief meds — no epinephrine if you have high blood pressure!
>> See an allergist to find exactly what you’re reacting to.
>> Remember to always check your local weather app for a pollen count so you’re prepared.
>> Whenever you come back home after being outside, take a shower, wash the pollen out of your hair and change clothes.
>> And last, but not least, lobby your representatives for climate change action now!