Allergy experts are turning to an unusual source of health information that is shedding light on the most common allergy symptoms, when pollen seasons peak, and even the types of allergens giving most people trouble: Google.
Internet search volume is becoming “the next Nostradamus” for predicting allergy seasons and trends, according to allergist Dr. Leonard Bielory, an American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) board member.
In his research presented at a meeting of the ACAAI this week, Bielory said Google trends helped him determine that — among other things — nasal allergy symptoms, due to tree pollens, are the most common searches from March through May. Web searches also determined most common symptoms included sneezing, a runny and itchy nose, and stuffiness due to blockage or congestion.
Nasal allergy symptoms were commonly searched during the fall months — but due to weeds and grasses, he said. The second most common symptom, based on search volume, is eye allergies.
"Allergy sufferers experience heighted allergy symptoms in the spring season, and again during September due to weed pollen and grass season," said Bielory. "The peak week for all allergy symptom searches is the second week of May, suggesting sufferers may be experiencing both spring and summer allergy symptoms."