HOUSTON – We all recognize the symptoms of pesky allergies. The sneezing and the itchy, watery eyes.
For some people, allergies can be debilitating. For others, the seasonal annoyance.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, experts say climate change is contributing to warming temperatures, which are impacting allergy seasons.
KPRC 2 Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley said the local data shows temperatures are trending warmer.
“A lot of it does have to do with global warming and temperatures rising,” said Brent Moon, the horticulture manager at the Houston Botanic Garden. “We’ve been getting warmer so it extends the seasons on both ends.”
This means the spring allergy season kicks off earlier and the fall season can be extended.
“If you have a longer fall, you may have extended ragweed season, and at the same time, you may have an earlier onset of cedar allergy season,” said Fran de la Mota, the director of horticulture with the Houston Botanic Garden.
Ragweed and cedar are both “vicious” allergens, according to Dr. David Corry, professor of medicine-immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine. He said the data is strongest for how ragweed, a fall time allergen, is effected by climate change in terms of abundance and the duration of the season.
Cedar picks up in the wintertime, giving folks very little time from allergens.
“If we don’t cool earlier, then that just extends the growing season,” said Moon in reference to fall pollen. “Until we get a good frost the plants tend to continue blooming.”
What can you do?
Dr. Corry said allergists are seeing more patients or patients who are impacted for longer periods of time.
“The pollen in the air seems to be more prevalent and the season may be starting earlier as well,” said Dr. Corry.
There are a couple of treatments to help you manage symptoms:
- Antihistamines: Talk to your doctor about what may work for you.
- Immunotherapy Shots: This treatment is curative or could at least make severe allergy symptoms more manageable, according to Dr. Curry
- Use high-efficiency air filters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this can help protect people against pollen, but recommends making sure your HVAC system can use those special filters.