Monday, April 26, 2010

The big sneeze

We love spring and the warming days, greening trees, and bright flowers. But for many, spring brings misery in the form of a running or stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneeze after sneeze after sneeze. The weatherman begins reporting daily pollen counts. That shiny just-washed car quickly turns a greenish off-yellow. Opening windows for fresh air brings that same coating to furniture and floors.
There are, of course, over-the-counter and prescription remedies to make you (and the pharmaceutical industry) feel better until the heightened pollen counts decline over the next few of months. Practical solutions like keeping windows closed and washing one's hair help some folks. But, for those with severe allergies nothing brings complete relief. Luckily, I suffer less than many and even then, only for a week or so, but I can see and hear the misery of others.
If you think spring allergy season is getting worse in recent years, you are probably right. No, people are not more susceptible to pollen, but because of climate change the impact of pollen is greater and being felt for a longer period of time. According to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation, Extreme Allergies and Global Warming, an earlier spring means a longer allergy season, allows some of the more allergenic tree varieties to thrive farther north, and as heat and drought stress trees many produce more pollen to help guarantee survival of the species.
In addition to short-term things you can do to relieve your symptoms, city dwellers can encourage planners to plant female trees which don't produce pollen or plant less allergenic varieties. In your garden feature bright flowers which are usually pollinated by insects. More ideas may be found at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In the long run, cutting greenhouse gases and slowing/stopping global warming is the only way to deal with the growing length and severity of allergy season.

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