Climate change could make allergy season longer and more intense

Peak allergy season has arrived in Southwest Florida but in the future, climate change could make your symptoms last even longer.

“As the world continues warming, the climate, we’re going to see longer and heavier pollination periods,” allergy specialist Dr. Castillo said.

Dr. Castillo says he’s already noticing changes in Southwest Florida.

“It seems like the past three to five years’ seasons are worsening is my impression and this seems to be unusually heavy,” Castillo said.

A rise in global greenhouse gas emissions directly impacts allergy season because more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stimulates plant growth which increases pollen concentrations.

“The pollen seasons are going to be earlier,” Castillo said. “In this area where the season is already long anyway, they could be even longer and more intense.”

As our planet warms, spring-like temperatures are also coming earlier and fall-like temperatures are arriving later. This is lengthening our growing season.

“As we can sometimes see during climate change, if the springtime becomes earlier, it’s going to be expected that the allergy season will change with that probably becoming earlier as well,” Florida Gulf Coast University Director of the Physician Assistant Program Robert Hawkes said.

Climate may change allergy season in the long term but everyday, weather already plays a major role.

“Right now we’re obviously not having a lot of rain, we’re kind of in a drought,” Hawkes said. “What happens then is the pollen can become more prominent in the air.”

Our abnormally dry spring isn’t helping either. Parts of Southwest Florida are under severe drought in need of three to six inches of rain.

“When it rains, it will actually kind of flush the pollen out of the air,” Hawkes said.

There are many basic things you can do if you’re struggling with allergies.

“Take a shower at night because that’s just going to kind of help wash the pollen off,” Hawkes said. “Wash your clothes more frequently, just kind of wash your hands, the more pollen you can kind of rinse away, the better it’s going to be.”

Keeping your windows closed while driving and at home can also make a big difference.

“Sleep with the windows closed,” Castillo said. “You don’t realize that the pollination starts at night so if you’re sleeping with the windows open and you wake up in the morning, you’re not going to be happy.”

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