Allergies aren't fun. Many of us suffer from hay fever, an allergy to common plant pollen. The coming of spring is heralded by itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. Despite a shelf-full of medications to treat this, doesn't it seem to be getting worse every year? Turns out, it actually is getting worse, and to some degree that is due to global warming.
Global warming is a gradual, microscopic increase in average temperatures, so it makes sense that warmer weather could also mean more blooming plants spraying pollen in every direction. Bad news: it is going to get worse, much worse.
According to new research led by Dr. Leonard Bielory of Rutgers University, pollen counts will jump to double today’s levels by 2040. A dozen years ago, pollen counts were about 8,500, on average. Dr. Bielory’s prediction is that the year 2040 should bring average counts beyond 21,000. Katchoo!
It turns out that plants will be responding to more than a slightly elevated temperature. Increased levels of carbon dioxide (the primary driver to global warming) will also stimulate the release of pollen. So, this is something of a double whammy.
Beyond sneezing and taking a lot of pills or shots, what can you do? Pollen is a contact allergen, so anything that reduces your contact with pollen will help. Some nasal sprays can block the absorption of pollen into your blood stream, so your allergic reaction never gets triggered. Check your drug store or click on the image to the right, because many effective nasal sprays are now available without a prescription.
You should also treat pollen like an invisible poison. Wash your hands after you have been outdoors. Consider taking a shower and washing your hair after a day out. And definitely stop hanging your clothes on the clothes line. It’s great for saving electricity but terrible for your allergies.
So if you can’t live in a bubble under the sea, try some of these strategies and brace yourself for the coming onslaught!