It’s Not Just You. More People Have Allergies Than Ever Before – Here’s Why

(Photo via Adobe Stock)

By Fiona Hatch

August 7, 2023

Allergy season is lasting longer than ever. This is why, and how you can stay well. 

Seasonal allergies are far from uncommon in the US. More than 81 million people deal with stuffy noses, itchy eyes, and persistent sneezing when the plants are in bloom – that’s 26% of adults and 19% of children! The bad news? Climate change is only making matters worse. The good news? There are simple things you can do to lessen your symptoms.

When do allergies peak in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has three allergy seasons: early and late spring, when tree and grass pollen is in bloom, and early fall when allergens like ragweed and sagebrush flower. But as the warmer seasons linger longer, so does the pollen that causes allergies.

Since warmer weather signals plants to bloom, pollen seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer. Also, greenhouse emissions are increasing the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a gas that stimulates plants to increase the production and release of pollen,” experts with the Harvard School of Public Health explained. 

Why am I suddenly getting allergies now, when I never have before?

As states with previously colder climates start to warm up, pollen-producing plants are able to grow in climates they were never able to before. Not only is the allergy season getting longer, but it’s also getting longer and more intense. 

As pollens move to new parts of the world, people who have never experienced seasonal irritation might be at risk of developing allergies.

“Allergic responses can develop in adulthood as well as in childhood. We often see patients at Boston Medical Center who grew up in a different ecological environment from the Northeast and may not have had problems with allergies when they were younger,” said Fred Little, an allergist with the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. “But two or three years after arriving here, their immune system gets primed to start developing that maladaptive response.”

How can I stay well?

Allergies might be more common and last longer, but there are ways to ease your symptoms. These are the top recommendations from the Mayo Clinic. 

  1. Start taking allergy medicine early.

Experts recommend you start before the season even starts. (Sorry we’re just telling you about this now, but better late than never!) Now that allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer, make sure to account for this when you pull out your allergy pills for the year. 

Which allergy medication should you take? Click here to compare your options.

  1. Limit your time outdoors. 

It’s not fun, but reducing your exposure to allergies can significantly lessen your symptoms. Don’t hang your laundry outside during peak allergy season, and even consider wearing a face mask when the pollen is exceptionally bad. 

Here’s an allergy tracker to track the current pollen level near you.

  1. Keep your air on, and take a shower after spending time outside. 

Home remedies can help, too. Investing in a Neti Pot or a nasal bulb to clean out your nose can alleviate extreme stuffiness, congestion, and postnasal drip. Inhaling steam in another way to soothe your sinuses. A simple trick to help a stuffy nose is to hold your head over a warm bowl or pot of water with a towel overhead to catch the steam. 

MORE: 15 Home Remedies for Allergies

If you still aren’t finding relief, call your doctor. You may need to go in for an appointment or schedule an appointment with an allergist.

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