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Why Your Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year and How to Find Relief

Why Your Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year and How to Find Relief

It’s peak allergy season in several states on the East Coast, including New York, and you, or your loved ones, may be sneezing, coughing, and feeling more miserable than usual this year. Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, explains that the more severe symptoms of seasonal allergies this spring are likely due to a warmer winter and an earlier start to allergy season. The cause of this longer, more intense allergy season? Climate change.

 

The Climate Connection

 

“There’s higher amounts of pollen due to rising greenhouse gases and more CO2 in the air, which plants thrive off of,” says Parikh. This increase in pollen, along with other allergens like dust and mold, can cause swelling in your nasal passages. Shelby Harris, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of sleep health at Sleepopolis, notes that your body mistakes these allergens as a threat, releasing histamine which causes nasal swelling, congestion, and scratchy throat.

 

Tips for Symptom Relief

 

1. Optimize Your Home to Reduce Pollen Spread

To mitigate the impact of pollen in your home, follow these tips:

  • Keep windows closed during peak pollen times: Early morning is when pollen levels are highest.
  • Change clothes and shower when coming home: This helps prevent bringing pollen into your living space.
  • Avoid using ceiling fans: This can reduce dust circulation.
  • Vacuum often and change sheets weekly: Regular cleaning can help keep pollen at bay.
  • Use an air purifier: This can help filter out allergens.
  • Keep your hamper outside the bedroom: Clothes worn outside can carry pollen.
  • Use hypoallergenic bedding and avoid drying clothes outdoors: These steps can further reduce pollen exposure.

2. Use Recommended Medications

If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms, Dr. Parikh suggests over-the-counter medications, which can be effective even if generic brands are used. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Claritin
  • Zyrtec
  • Xyzal
  • Allegra
  • Flonase
  • Astepro
  • Alaway
  • Pataday

For any severe symptoms such as cough, wheezing, chest pain, or shortness of breath, it is crucial to see a physician, as these could be signs of asthma, which can be deadly. Allergies are the most common cause of asthma.

3. Try Local Honey

There is some evidence suggesting that local honey may help alleviate allergy symptoms. Dr. Timothy Wong, a board-certified family medicine doctor, explains that local honey might help build immunity against pollen. A small study with 40 participants in 2013 found that eating honey daily, in combination with allergy medication, was associated with fewer allergy symptoms after eight weeks compared to using medication alone.

Andrew Cote, head beekeeper at Andrew’s Honey, recommends one spoon of local honey every morning, ideally starting a few weeks before allergy season. However, children under the age of one should not be given honey, and people allergic to bees and wasps should avoid this remedy, as it could trigger allergic reactions.

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