Allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer. Here's how to manage the pollen onslaught

The pollen is already eye-watering in the Southern and Eastern US.

Allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer. Here's how to manage the pollen onslaught


Even though it's only March, the pollen in the Southern and Eastern US are already making your eyes water.

According to Atlanta Allergy & Asthma doctors, the pollen count reached the "extremely high" range on Monday in Atlanta. This was the first time it had done so in over 30 years of record-keeping. The tree pollen count had more than doubled by Tuesday.

The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang reported that the first "high" tree pollen count was found in Washington, DC on February 8. It was 487 grains per cubic meter of fresh air. This was the highest recorded count so far in the season, Susan Kosisky (chief microbiologist, US Army Centralized Allergen Extract Lab) told the Post.

After a very warm February in the South, and East, pollen has been erupting from plants earlier than usual this year. These aren't just isolated trends. Researchers say allergy season is getting longer and earlier as the planet heats.

Climate Central released Wednesday a report that examined how warmer temperatures have affected allergy seasons in 203 US cities. The report was done by Climate Central, an organization focused on climate news, research and information. The average growing season, which is the time between the last freeze of spring and the first freeze in fall, has been 16 days longer for the Southeast, 15 days more in the Northeast, and 14 days longer for the South, according to Climate Central.

Climate Central reported that the West's average growing season lasts 27 days. Reno, Nevada has witnessed a remarkable increase of 99 days.

According to Climate Central, the average lengthening of the growing season in the US was 15 days.

Climate Central meteorologist Lauren Casey told CNN that climate change has caused a longer and earlier growing season for plants. This makes pollen more common, which in turn is a problem for many Americans with pollen allergies and mold allergies. "Pollen can also trigger asthma attacks, which is more severe for those with asthma.

Many plants produce tiny pollen grains when they reproduce. This is usually in the spring. These pollen grains can be inhaled and some people have very poor immune systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 24 million Americans suffer from pollen-induced allergies such as hay fever.

According to Climate Central analysis, Atlanta's growing season has increased by 34 days.

According to Climate Central analysis, Washington, DC's growing season has increased by 20 days.

Researchers warn that a longer or earlier start to the pollen season could lead to a public health emergency. As the South heats up and the Southwest suffers from drought, pollen from plants such as ragweed and poaceae -- which are typically found in salt-marshes or grasslands - will be more prevalent in those areas than in the North.

The temperature and precipitation change are closely linked to wind-driven pollen. This is an important factor in fertilization. As a result, spring seasons will get warmer earlier because of climate change. Plants could pollinate earlier and for longer periods of time.

The rise in mold allergens

Seasonal allergies can also be caused by plant pollen. According to the report, mold, which is a type of fungi, can cause allergies in some people.

Although outdoor mold is less well-studied than pollen, the report shows that one thing is certain: Mold development is more favorable in warmer and wetter conditions, which many places are experiencing amid the climate crisis.

Casey stated that despite climate change we are seeing warming in all seasons. However, the winter season is the most warming for most places in the US. "So now we have to deal with mold at a time when we normally wouldn't.

Casey also noted that extreme precipitation is becoming more common due to climate change, which makes it easier for mold to grow. Researchers believe that thunderstorms spread mold spores more effectively than allergens.

Casey stated that pollen grains can burst when they are wet and then they become sub-pollen particles. These tiny bits can be dispersed more easily by wind once they dry, and are therefore easier to get into your nasal passages.

What can you do about allergies?

The peak season for ragweed pollen is in autumn.

Dr. Mitchell Grayson is the chair of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Medical Scientific Council and chief of Nationwide Children's Hospital's division of allergy and immunology. He said that pollen allergies have arrived earlier than normal.

He stated that he may see people with symptoms in February, rather than March, but there is significant year to year variability. "I haven’t had worse symptoms but I’m in a hospital that offers specialist care and see patients with all levels of severity.

Grayson stated that allergies will not be treated, even if the season is longer. However, it is important to be aware and familiar with what your allergy triggers are.

Grayson recommends:

Stock up on anti-allergy medication and prepare early. Grayson advised that steroid nasal sprays should be used at least two weeks prior to your allergy season. Then, continue to use it throughout the season.

The meteorologist Casey also pointed out that allergy season can be a financial burden for low-income families, particularly those with asthma, because of the 'billions' of dollars spent each year on medical costs related to asthma and allergies.

She stated that awareness is crucial, especially since the world emits more carbon pollution into our atmosphere. This could lead to worsening allergy seasons.

She said, "You are in control of your body and know what a typical year looks like for you, especially if it's allergy season." "But, that paradigm is changing with the increase in the growing seasons. So be aware that you might be suffering now, and that you could be going forward in times when you normally wouldn't, so you can be prepared for it in your everyday life.