You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Shifting temps may prime you for spring allergies


Spring allergy season is again off to an early start in many parts of the country, and doctors say there are some signs it may be even more miserable than usual this year.

Last year was the fourth warmest winter on record, with consistently mild temperatures. That led to record-breaking pollen counts that struck about a month earlier than normal in some places.

But this year, many areas got a false spring. Temperatures rose briefly and then dipped again. The swings caused pollen levels to rise, then fall, then rise again.

That pattern of pollen release sets people with allergies up for something called "the priming effect," says Stanley M. Fineman, MD, an Atlanta-based allergist and past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

“When patients are exposed, then the pollen goes away for a while, there’s a weather change or whatever, then they are re-exposed to that pollen, they can have an even more significant effect because their system is primed to respond,” Fineman says.

“It results in patients having a lot more difficulty with significantly worse symptoms” that may be tougher to get under control, he says.

Some parts of the South and East Coast began logging high tree pollen counts in January. Then pollen levels dropped in early February before climbing again by the end of the month. Plenty of allergy-prone people were caught unprepared.

At the Allergy and Asthma Center of Georgetown, in Texas, doctors say they began seeing people with seasonal allergies about a month earlier than usual.

“The typical symptoms are congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat, itchy throat, headaches, itchy ears,” not to mention all the patients who have asthma that’s triggered by allergies, says Sheila Amar, MD. “It’s pretty miserable."

Blame Climate Change

The bad news is that these amped-up spring allergy seasons probably aren’t flukes. Scientists say that as climate change accelerates, so will allergies.

“Springs are coming earlier,” says Jake Weltzin, PhD, executive director of the USA National Phenology Network, a government project to track the effects of climate change on the habits of plants and animals.

As the weather gets warmer earlier in the year, more plants and trees start to bloom at the same time, creating “a pollen bomb,” Weltzin says.

What’s more, experiments show that plants exposed to higher levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide make more pollen. The pollen they make also has higher levels of proteins that trigger allergies, which makes it more potent.

Beat Allergy Symptoms

Doctors say the best time to treat allergies is before they flare up.

“Once your immune system is revved up and reacting to the allergens, it’s always harder to get it under control,” Amar says. “In general, being proactive is a much better approach.”

Some prescription nasal sprays take weeks to build up in the nose, Amar says, so patients should try to anticipate their symptoms.

That can be tough to do when winter weather is unpredictable. If allergies already have you in their grips, some common-sense steps can cut the misery:

  • On higher-pollen-count days, avoid going outside, especially in the morning when pollen levels are highest. If you have to go out, take your allergy medications with you.
  • Keep windows and doors closed. Run the air conditioner instead.
  • Wear a mask if you have to work outdoors.
  • Take a shower at the end of the day to wash sticky pollen grains from your hair. That can help you get a better night’s sleep.

SOURCES: Ziska, L. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, January 2012.Stanley M. Fineman, MD, MBA, allergist and past president of the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Atlanta.Sheila Amar, MD, allergist, Allergy and Asthma Center of Georgetown, Georgetown, Texas.Jake Weltzin, PhD, executive director, USA National Phenology Network, U.S. Geological Survey, Tucson, Ariz.

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Health

Premature ‘Baby Bun’ is thriving, marks milestone with parents
Premature ‘Baby Bun’ is thriving, marks milestone with parents

  It may be something that every child accomplishes, but it means even more to the parents of Kaleb Graves, also known as Baby Bun. Arkell and Dana Graves of Virginia posted video of Kaleb sitting up on his own for 1 minute and 48 seconds on Facebook. Kaleb was an internet sensation even before he was born when his father’s reaction to his...
D.L. Stewart: Sometimes you gotta’ root for Goliath
D.L. Stewart: Sometimes you gotta’ root for Goliath

As the story about United Airlines v. three young girls first unfolded, it had all the makings of a major public relations disaster. The company would have received more support if it had announced that all its flights from now on would be preceded by a three-hour wait on the tarmac. In case you missed the story — and the internet storm that...
4 steps to better joint health

Your joints are truly amazing. Imagine walking with your best friend, bending to smell a flower or tossing a ball to your kids without your flexible joints. To help keep these moveable marvels healthy and free of diseases that can harm them — like arthritis and osteoporosis — practice a little joint TLC: 1. Keep moving. “Exercise...
Elephant ranch lets visitors bathe, feed, ride elephants
Elephant ranch lets visitors bathe, feed, ride elephants

A private central Florida elephant preserve offers a unique, hands-on experience to visitors. The Elephant Ranch allows tourists to get up close and personal with the majestic animals. >> Read more trending news The Two Tails Ranch located near Gainesville lets people feed, bathe and even ride the eight elephants living at the ranch. The nonprofit...
Idaho woman blames car crash on deer-chasing Bigfoot
Idaho woman blames car crash on deer-chasing Bigfoot

A northern Idaho woman blamed a car crash with a deer on a Sasquatch sighting last week. >> Read more trending news  The woman told police she collided with the deer after spotting a Bigfoot on a highway near Potlatch near the Washington border, according to NBC Montana. The woman said the Sasquatch was chasing the deer Wednesday night...
More Stories