From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published April 3, 2013 01:46 PM

Seasonal allergies may be worse than usual this year

Break out those tissues and symptom relief pills, allergy season is upon us.

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And unfortunately, experts are saying that as the weather warms this spring, allergy sufferers are likely to be more affected than in past years.

Seasonal allergies occur when outdoor molds release their spores or when trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen into the air in an effort to fertilize other plants. When we inhale this air, our bodies work to fight off these airborne invaders, which according to the US Food and Drug Administration leads to nearly 36 million Americans suffering each year from these seasonal allergies.

Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist with the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction and a physician at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey stated: "For the year 2020, it looks realistic to say pollen counts will increase by 20 percent," however, many variables could change that prediction.

Bielory and his colleagues simulated various temperature and precipitation scenarios and found that average pollen counts in the United States are likely to reach 21,735 grains per cubic meter of air (or per 35 cubic feet of air) by 2040. In comparison, average pollen counts in the year 2000 hovered around 8,455 grains per cubic meter of air.

Experts say that an earlier arrival of spring and a longer growing season, along with increased precipitation and humidity from storms, may all contribute to the increased presence and persistence of allergens.

In addition, Bielory’s research indicates this year will be especially difficult for those in the Northeast region because of super storm Sandy and other storms that have ravaged the area.

"We found that the previous year's precipitation was a major impact on the following year's pollen production," Bielory said. "Sandy and snowstorms will increase the pollen production in the Northeast severalfold."

With pollen production peaking earlier in the year, people should be prepared to face their seasonal allergies head on. Here are some solutions to ease your allergy symptoms:

    - Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest. Also, the best time to go outside is after a good rain, which can help clear pollen from the air.

    - Consult an allergist for possible medications or allergy shots.

    - Check local media for pollen forecasts. Close doors and windows when these pollen counts are high in order to minimize exposure.

 For more information check out Live Science and My Health News Daily.

Allergies ahead sign via Shutterstock.

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