Friday, 10 April 2015

Do Harsh Winters Mean Worse Allergies?

WebMD Health News

April 9, 2015 -- Spring is finally here, and with it comes tree pollen. For people with allergies, that could spell misery. But despite the harsh winter in some parts of the country, the sniffly, sneezy grief may not be any worse than usual.

“I would say it will be an average allergy season, based on what we can predict,” says Kraig Jacobson, MD, who chairs the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s Aerobiology Committee.

But pollen predictions are a guessing game, Jacobson and other allergists say.

“Unfortunately, we really can’t say what will happen,” says Sherry Farzan, MD, an allergist who practices at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. “Last year, everyone was thinking that the polar vortex would result in a spring pollen vortex. It may have been worse than usual, but it wasn’t as bad as we predicted. For this year, only time will tell.”

What we do know is that weather has a big impact on pollen counts. Rain often eases allergy symptoms for a little while. While rain falls, most pollen can’t be carried on the breeze.

On the other hand, the more rain and snow we get in winter and autumn, the more pollen the trees will likely make come spring, since moisture spurs pollen production, Jacobson says.

As winter temperatures turn milder, pollen begins to spread, and allergy symptoms start to appear. The timing of allergy season depends in part on the temperature, as warmer winters often result in trees giving off pollen earlier. According to Jacobson, that’s what’s happening in Oregon and other parts of the Pacific Northwest this year.

“Pollen becomes a problem as the weather becomes drier and warmer,” says Stanley Fineman, MD, of Atlanta Allergy and Asthma. Fineman believes that in parts of the country hit hard by winter snow and rain, including the Northeast and Southeast, the trees have likely been primed to shed a lot of pollen.

Still, that doesn’t mean people with allergies should assume the worst, he says.

source : Do Harsh Winters Mean Worse Allergies?

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