The year 2040: Double the pollen, double the allergy suffering?

November 9, 2012

With this year's unseasonably warm temperatures and extended seasons, many have coined 2012 as being the worst for allergies. But if you thought your symptoms were worse than ever, just wait until the year 2040.

According to a study being presented by allergist Leonard Bielory, M.D., at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), counts are expected to more than double by 2040.

"Climate changes will increase pollen production considerably in the near future in different parts of the country," said Dr. Bielory, ACAAI board member and fellow. "Economic growth, sustainability, temperature and human-induced changes, such as increased levels of carbon dioxide, are all responsible for the influx that will continue to be seen."

In the year 2000, pollen counts averaged 8,455. Fast forward to 2040, and these counts are anticipated to reach 21,735. Researchers predict counts in 20-year increments up to the year 2100, and are incorporating various in their models including , changes in precipitation and temperature. The study, taking place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., is ongoing to analyze various allergenic plants being grown in climate chambers mimicking future conditions.

While pollen counts will progressively increase over the years, the study also found the sneezing season will begin earlier every year.

"In 2000, annual pollen production began on April 14, and peaked on May 1," said Dr. Bielory. "Pollen levels are predicted to peak earlier on April 8, 2040. If allergy sufferers begin long-term treatment such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) now, they will have relief long before 2040 becomes a reality."

An earlier report by the same researchers demonstrated an increase in ragweed pollen in a section of the country, from Texas to the Canadian border, over the past 25 years. This was associated with an increase of ragweed pollen by two to three weeks as one moves north.

ACAAI allergists recommend allergy sufferers begin treating their symptoms with over-the-counter or prescribed medications two weeks before symptoms usually start. While there isn't a cure for allergies, immunotherapy is the only treatment that can prevent disease progression. It can also result in health care savings of 41 percent.

For allergy sufferers looking to combat seasonal symptoms, ACAAI suggests:

  • Know your triggers. You may think you know that pollen is causing your suffering, but other substances may be involved as well. More than two-thirds of seasonal actually have year-round symptoms. An allergist can help you find the source of your suffering and treat more than just symptoms.
  • Work with your allergist to devise strategies to avoid your triggers, such as:
  1. Monitor pollen and mold counts—most media report this information during allergy seasons.
  2. Keep windows and doors shut at home, and in your car during allergy season.
  3. Stay inside during mid-day and afternoon hours when are highest.
  4. Take a shower, wash hair and change clothing after being outdoors working or playing.
  5. Wear a mask when doing outdoor chores like mowing the lawn. An allergist can help you find the type of mask that works best.

Explore further: Hurricane Isaac could stir up allergies, asthma

Related Stories

Hurricane Isaac could stir up allergies, asthma

August 29, 2012
(HealthDay)—Dangerous winds and flooding aren't the only hazards posed by Hurricane Isaac as it pounds Louisiana and Mississippi.

Get ready for spring - hay fever worse in spring than summer

December 21, 2011
Hay fever (runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes) is caused by an allergy to pollen, and most commonly to grass pollen. These tiny grains bring misery to sufferers through spring and summer and pollen levels are often included ...

Chicago's reputation as one of 'worst place to live with spring allergies' just got worse

April 13, 2011
Budding trees and greening grass may bring a sigh of relief to some Chicagoans, but for 40 million other Americans the signs of spring leave them gasping for breath.

Tips for managing your child's allergies

March 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Allergy season can be a difficult time of year for many children and their parents.  With spring in the air, pollen is close behind.

Recommended for you

Genetic immune deficiency could hold key to severe childhood infections

July 18, 2017
A gene mutation making young children extremely vulnerable to common viruses may represent a new type of immunodeficiency, according to a University of Queensland researcher.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?

July 18, 2017
What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma in adults? This can be tricky because asthma can stem from several causes and treatment often depends on what is triggering the asthma.

Large multi-ethnic study identifies many new genetic markers for lupus

July 17, 2017
Scientists from an international consortium have identified a large number of new genetic markers that predispose individuals to lupus.

Study finds molecular explanation for struggles of obese asthmatics

July 17, 2017
A large, bouquet-shaped molecule called surfactant protein A, or SP-A, may explain why obese asthma patients have harder-to-treat symptoms than their lean and overweight counterparts, according to a new study led by scientists ...

Team identifies potential cause for lupus

July 14, 2017
Leading rheumatologist and Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor Betty Diamond, MD, may have identified a protein as a cause for the adverse reaction of the immune system in patients suffering from lupus. A better ...

Immunosuppression underlies resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy

July 14, 2017
A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has identified a novel mechanism behind resistance to angiogenesis inhibitors - drugs that fight cancer by suppressing the formation of new blood vessels. In their report ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.