Allergy season 2022 could be longer, more intense thanks to climate change, study finds

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New research is predicting that future allergy seasons will be longer and more intense thanks to climate change.

Spring officially begins on Sunday, and while the trees remain bare, some have been releasing pollen well ahead of schedule - and as a result, the allergy season is starting early.

"We've actually been seeing a trend like this in the last few years," said Dr. Sindhura Bandi, Rush University Medical Center-Division of Allergy & Immunology.

While allergists have seen the trend, a new University of Michigan study confirms what is causing it and what to expect in the future. Research shows increased temperatures caused by climate change are making the pollen season longer and more intense.

"We saw different species react differently to climate change, oak and cypress families are very sensitive to climate change and in the future they will have a big increase," said Yingxiao Zhang, lead author of the University of Michigan study.

Using historical data from 1995-2014 to build a model for the future, the University of Michigan study predicts by the end of the century, the pollen season could begin 40 days earlier and last 19 days longer.

In addition, pollen emissions each year could increase by 200%.

The brief break allergy sufferers get in the winter is likely to get much shorter.

"If they are having overlapping of the spring and fall allergens, then they might experience more severe symptoms because they are getting the effect of the grass as well as effect of ragweed and other allergens," Bandi said.

Because some trees and grasses react differently to climate change, Bandi said it's important for allergy suffers to identify exactly what they are allergic to and get the appropriate therapy.

"If we know this is going to be a trend over the next few years, pro-actively getting in and taking about your options is helpful as well," Bandi said.

University of Michigan researchers fear if the trend continues and their model is correct, it could result in a big economic loss with allergy sufferers missing work, schools days and spending more on medical expenses.

Now you can get the daily allergy count for the Chicago area during select ABC7 Newscasts. You can also visit the following link: Loyola Medicine Allergy Count or call the Loyola Medicine Allergy Hotline at 1-866-4-POLLEN for English.
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