I was reading an article from the Washington Post about pollen, allergies and asthma. One doctor in the Midwest was shocked at the number of people being admitted to the hospital for allergies and asthma-about 20 people per day! I don't think our regional hospital ever gets that many patients per day, even in the middle of flu and RSV season!
Dr. Portnoy works at Children's Mercy Hospital and Clinics of Kansas City, Missouri. He is chief of the hospital's allergy, asthma and immunology section and said that this year has been a perfect storm for allergy and asthma sufferers. Hot and dry weather, little humidity and plants blooming early means a long and miserable allergy season. Doctors can't prove yet that global warming is causing a change in allergy and asthma symptoms, but they think they may actually have some statistics by the end of the summer. Dr. Portnoy is quoted as saying:
“It’s been a secular trend, gradually getting worse,” he said.
“This year it all came together, warm in the winter, all the plants started producing their pollen,” Portnoy said. “My guess is probably it was a worse year than other years . . . because it was a perfect storm of hot, dry, low humidity.”
The University of North Carolina has an allergist named David Peden. He says that:
Americans are likely being exposed to a new super pollen. Studies have shown that plants treated with carbon dioxide and ozone emissions — causes of global warming — release a more potent pollen, with greater amounts of allergens per pollen grain, he said.
“When you’re consistently exposed to things you’re allergic to, you never give the nose and the lungs any real rest,” Peden said. “A person’s response to things they are allergic to can be increased by other things, like ozone, air pollution and associated climate-change issues. People who encounter it will be more sensitive.”
That explains why people are being admitted to the hospital more often for allergies and asthma. This photo shows what we have to try to breathe through. When you have asthma, your body over-reacts to many triggers or irritants. That makes the bronchial tubes in the lungs swell from the inside. The bands on the outside of the bronchial tubes tighten and what little room is left to breathe through clogs with mucus. No wonder we have a hard time breathing!
Hhm. No matter what you believe about global warming, it seems like things are getting worse for allergy and asthma sufferers. So, what to do? There are a few simple things that can keep you from being so miserable.
- Use Central Air instead of a swamp cooler (swamp coolers can pull pollen into the home)
- Sleep with the windows closed (another reason to use central air)
- Shower before you go to bed at night (to remove pollen from your skin and hair)
- Wash your sheets once a week in hot water
- Talk to your doctor! If you aren't getting relief from taking these precautions and from taking an anti-histamine, see what else he or she would recommend. There are allergy nose sprays on the market that only affect the nose. You may not have the drowsy side effects of taking an allergy pill every day.
- Allergy shots (or immunotherapy) are another option. To learn more, click here.