Why this allergy season may feel worse than usual

If you're suffering from severe allergies this season, you're not alone.

A recent study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that over the last 20 years, the pollen season has lengthened by an average of 20 days annually, while the concentration of pollen in North America has increased by 21% over the same time period.

"With climate change, the growing seasons are much longer and so the spring pollen season starts much earlier and it's more intense," said Kenneth Mendez, the president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

But wait, there's more. The study also found the pollen in the air may also be more potent, making it more allergenic.

"The additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually juices it, makes it more conducive for trees and other plants to grow and have more intense releases of pollen," Mendez said.

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Ways to mitigate symptoms include avoiding high-release periods, which are late in the day or early in the morning, and keep your windows closed, according to Mendez.

"If you have to be outside, when you come inside, leave your shoes, your coat at the door shower afterwards. If you've got a pet, we always suggest [washing] your pet down," Mendez said. "And then if you're indoors, use a HEPA air filter because you spend 90% of your time indoors, if you're not outdoors, you could still attract pollen indoors." 

Mendez added that sales of medication for allergies was down the past year because many people stayed indoors last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So that could be yet another reason why people feel this is a harsher allergy season than usual.