Climate Change Increases Seasonal Allergies

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Pollen counts are climbing as climate change raises temperatures.According to a study that will be presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI), Medical News Today reports in New Research Suggests Link Between Climate Change And Outdoor Allergies that climate change may affect respiratory allergic disease, including allergic rhinitis.

Researchers from the Allergy and Respiratory Diseases Clinic at Genoa University in Italy recorded pollen counts, the duration of the season, and the prevalence of sensitizations for five types of pollen in the Bordighera region of Italy from 1981 to 2007. They found an increase in both the duration of some pollen seasons and that the total pollen load increased progressively for some species.

Lead author of the study, Ronato Ariano, MD, states, ‘Climate changes are a reality, and they can be documented if long enough periods of time are considered.’

World Allergy Organization Past-President G. Walter Canonica, MD, adds, ‘By studying a well-defined geographical region, we observed that the progressive increase of the average temperature has prolonged the duration of the pollen seasons of some plants and, consequently, the overall pollen load.’

While results showed that the percentage of patients sensitized to these allergens increased throughout the years of the study, it is not certain whether the prolonged pollen seasons put more people at risk for developing allergies, or whether the increase in allergies is caused by other factors.

This question brings up an interesting possibility in answering the conundrum of why the number of allergic individuals keeps rising: Is climate change and the resultant increase in pollen season and pollen counts tipping the scales of our total allergen load?

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