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Climate change is making your allergies worse

Climate change is making your allergies worse

The annual pollenocalypse is here.

From Maine to Alabama, clouds of allergens like pollen are wafting over cities, leaving millions of people with watery eyes, headaches, and rashes. 2021 is shaping up to be yet another brutal year for allergies. Just like 2020, 2019, and 2018 ...

The trend is real: Allergy risk is getting worse over time. The length and intensity of pollen seasons are growing, largely due to climate change. And as the planet continues to warm, more misery is in store.

Up to 50 million Americans are estimated to have allergies, and as pollen counts increase, more people may become allergic.

“I think that what will happen is that more people will get sensitized and then they will present themselves earlier because of the higher pollen count, particularly with tree pollen,” said Sunil Perera, an allergist in Roseville, California, near Sacramento.

That in turn will become a greater burden on health and the economy, as even people with mild symptoms struggle with remaining active and productive. The cost of treating nasal allergies already tops $3.4 billion per year in the US. Asthma attacks induced by pollen lead to 20,000 emergency room visits a year in the US.

One complication this year, like last, is the Covid-19 pandemic. Many are wondering whether their suffering is being caused by the virus or pollen. There are some overlapping symptoms between Covid-19 and allergies, like a runny nose and a loss of smell, but allergies also produce some distinct signs, like itchy eyes and sneezing, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. The more unique symptoms to Covid-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

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