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Allergies Worse Than Ever? Blame Global Warming

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If you find yourself constantly sneezing, coughing, and struggling with itchy eyes, you're not alone. Allergies have been on the rise in recent years, and many people are wondering why. The answer, it seems, lies in global warming.

Global warming is the gradual increase in the Earth's average surface temperature, primarily caused by human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation. As temperatures rise, so do the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This increase in CO2 can cause plants to produce more pollen, which triggers allergic reactions in many people.

In addition to increased pollen production, global warming can also affect the severity of allergies in other ways. Warmer temperatures can cause plants to bloom earlier and for longer periods, which means that allergy season lasts longer than ever before. Additionally, warmer temperatures can cause certain plants to grow in areas where they wouldn't normally be found, which exposes people to new allergens.

Not only does global warming affect plants and pollen, but it can also impact the populations of insects that are responsible for spreading pollen. As temperatures rise, insects like bees and butterflies emerge earlier in the year and are active for longer periods, which means they have more time to spread pollen. This increased activity can exacerbate allergy symptoms in people who are sensitive to certain types of pollen.

It's not just pollen that is affected by global warming, however. Rising temperatures can also lead to increased levels of air pollution, which can worsen allergies and asthma symptoms. This is because air pollution can irritate the lungs and airways, making it harder for people to breathe.

So, what can we do to combat the effects of global warming on allergies? The most obvious solution is to reduce our carbon footprint by using public transportation, walking, or biking instead of driving, and by reducing our energy consumption at home. We can also support policies and initiatives that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our planet.

In addition to reducing our carbon footprint, there are also steps we can take to alleviate our allergy symptoms. This includes taking allergy medications like antihistamines or using nasal sprays, avoiding outdoor activities during peak pollen season, and keeping windows closed to prevent pollen from entering our homes.

In conclusion, allergies are worse than ever, and global warming is a major contributing factor. As temperatures continue to rise, we can expect allergy seasons to last longer and to be more severe. However, by taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint and by taking measures to alleviate our allergy symptoms, we can work to mitigate the effects of global warming on our health.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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