"polar vortex" is behind us, with the long, brutal winter of 2013-14 fading (finally) in most regions of the country. But now health experts are predicting a "pollen vortex" — a particularly harsh spring allergy season ahead.
Here's why: The freezing temperatures of the prolonged winter and heavy rains in March delayed the blooming of trees, and now that it's finally warming up, they are expected to bloom at the same time as grasses — causing a dramatic rise in pollen that some health experts are describing as a kind of perfect allergy-boosting storm.
What's more, the rain, humidity, and late-melting snow are also contributing to mold growth, which can worsen allergies, the LiveScience
"People who may have both tree allergies and grass allergies are probably going be doubly impacted, because both of those things are going to be blooming at the same time," said Lolita McDavid, M.D., a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8 percent of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies that cause stuffy and runny noses, watery and itchy eyes, sneezing, and wheezing on days with high pollen counts.
The severity of allergy season depends on the temperatures, precipitation, and amount of flowering grasses in an area that year, studies have shown.
"The allergy seasons seem to be getting intense in the last few years. We are not quite sure why," McDavid said. "We don't know if it's the climate change. It may be."
To ease the discomfort of spring allergy season, experts advise:
- Take an antihistamine before going to bed, to prevent allergic reactions for 24 hours.
- Change clothes when you get home from work, or after being outdoors, so you don't bring allergens indoors.
- Wash your hair before getting in bed.
- Close your windows and turn on air conditioning.
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