Earth Day: Climate Change and Your Allergies

Earth Day, which is being celebrated Thursday, April 22, is a great opportunity to reflect on our planet and what we can do to make it better. Climate change is a popular topic, especially on and around Earth Day — and it may impact your allergies more than you think.

A 20-year study looked at how environmental allergy seasons are impacted by global warming, and the findings were pretty compelling. In honor of Earth Day, learn all about the research in this blog.

Behind The Study

On top of our roof at Allergychoices, there is a large, spinning, metal air sampler that collects pollen. It vacuums in air and collects pollen on a greased slide. Tony Kavanaugh, medical laboratory technician at Allergy Associates of La Crosse and a National Allergy Bureau-certified pollen counter, takes this slide under a microscope and counts each and every pollen particle that was collected.

This data is shared nationally to give a pollen report for the southwest Wisconsin region. Tony has done this for years, and has also shared this data with Lewis Ziska, a USDA researcher who looked at pollen trends over a 20-year time span — from 1995 to 2015.

Ziska analyzed the data and found that in our area alone, there were 15 more days of pollen in 2015 compared to 1995. The trend was similar throughout the U.S., and many attribute the cause to climate change.

Why Pollen Days Are Increasing

Climate change has a negative impact on many things, but it’s actually really good for some plants — particularly the ones that pollinate and cause allergy symptoms. These plants thrive with the increased heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide, which all lead to their increase in pollination.

Tony explains why these conditions lead to higher pollination (and therefore — allergy symptoms) in this previous blog.

How We Can Help

In 2021, being environmentally conscious is becoming more mainstream, giving us many ways to help preserve the environment. Here are a few easy things you can do every day to slow climate change.

  1. Find ways to use less gas — carpool, use public transportation, bike or walk to your destination
  2. Turn off and unplug electronics when they’re not in use, including lights and air conditioning units
  3. Stop throwaway plastic use. Instead, use reusable water bottles, bags, and containers
  4. When possible, use less hot water, as hot water uses up to five times more energy than cold water

Even small actions can make a big difference when they’re done collectively.

 

Taking Control of Your Allergies

Being proactive in treating your allergies is key, as allergy-producing plants are likely not going anywhere even with the environmentally-friendly adaptions we make. The only way to control allergy symptoms long-term is to treat the cause with allergy immunotherapy, and Allergychoices advocates for sublingual immunotherapy as a safe, effective, and convenient option.

Also known as allergy drops, personalized sublingual immunotherapy slowly introduces the body to your problematic allergens through liquid drops taken under the tongue — based on your specific allergies and level of sensitivity. Over time, the body slowly builds tolerance and learns not to react when exposed. Find a provider who is trained in this method.