21-Apr-15 11:00 AM  CST

Does Harsher, Longer Winters Equate to Worsened Seasonal Allergies?

Itchy watery eyes, relentless sneezing, stuffy nose or a nose that won’t stop running, for some of us these are some sure signs that spring has most definitely sprung.  While the spring is a welcome change to many, especially those on the East Coast, it can often bring the troubling symptoms that come from seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies typical begin for most of us once the trees began to sprout leaves or the grass begins to turn green.  So what does a harsher winter have to do with worsened allergy symptoms? It all has to do with the moisture.

According to allergists, years when we receive higher than normal amounts of moisture, rain or snow, we often see increased levels of pollens and that is due to the increased production of pollen that comes from trees, flowers and grasses. As winter starts to become milder and drier the increased production of pollen taking place within the grasses and trees comes alive. As we near spring the pollen waits to be released into the air as soon as new growth sprouts. When the earth comes alive from the long winter the accumulating amounts of increased pollen the trees, grasses and flowers have been holding in gets released into the air. Once this happens, seasonal allergies are at their height.

Seasonal allergies will, for obvious reasons, be worse in areas were the tree population is more dense. However in areas such as mountainous areas and coastal areas, issues with allergies tend to be less pronounced. The reason for this is because the pollen more likely to be carried off by the wind and out to sea.

The National Allergy Bureau announced on April 9th that oak, mulberry, and walnut trees were in full bloom and causing increased seasonal allergies in areas near and around Austin, Texas. In addition states in the southern portion of the country were expected to have higher than normal counts of grass and tree pollen. Seasonal allergies in areas hit hard by winter, such as the Pacific Northwest or the East Coast are expected to have a delayed, but heavier than normal allergy season.




McMillin, M., (2015), “Do Harsh Winters Mean Worse Allergies?” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20150409/spring-allergies-pollen, retrieved 11. April 2015

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Kelley Simmons
Source: Sandy Andrews, CPhT, BLS  

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