The U.S. Global Research Program in May issued an 800-page National Climate Assessment report that does not bode well for the more than 50 million Americans with allergies and asthma — their already terrible symptoms are about to get worse.
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According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, such extreme climate changes as temperature increases, wildfires and superstorms can wreak havoc among allergy and asthma sufferers. Here’s how:
- Length of the growing season. Warmer temperatures will lead to longer growing seasons — a good thing for farmers and gardeners, but it could mean increased misery for allergy sufferers because it escalates the time pollen and mold are present.
- Erratic weather. If weather fluctuates greatly between warm and cold spells, it can result in more intense periods of pollen release during warm temperatures when plants take the cue to grow and release pollen. Once allergy sufferers are exposed to pollen, their immune system is primed to react to the allergens, meaning there will be little relief even if temperatures cool down.
- Rainfall. Rain can be either a good thing or a bad thing for allergy sufferers, depending on when it happens. The worst allergy seasons are often preceded by rainfall, which promotes rapid plant growth later on. But rain can also provide a much-needed respite for those with allergies, as a heavy rainfall can help clear the air of pollen.
- Wind. Dry and windy weather is not kind to people with allergies, as the wind spreads pollen and mold.
“Allergy and asthma can strike at any age. Even those who have never had symptoms can suddenly develop the conditions, especially as these climate changes continue,” said allergist Clifford Bassett, ACAAI fellow.