March 1, 2010

Allergy Seasoned Lengthened By Climate Change

Doctors from Italy are saying that pollen seasons may be longer due to changes in climate patterns, causing an extended period of congestion and sneezing for people with allergies, especially hay fever.

Based on a twenty-six-year study, doctors have discovered an increased amount of pollen in the air progressively extending later and later into the year. The study was concentrated in the Bordighera region of Italy between 1981 and 2007. They recorded pollen counts during the allergy season and how long each of the five pollen types lasted.

"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," Dr. Walter Canonica of Genoa University said in a statement to Reuters.

The study found that the percentage of patients with allergic reactions increased throughout the study, but doctors are not clear if longer pollen seasons actually put more people at risk for developing allergies.

Doctors presented their evidence at a meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in New Orleans on Monday.

"Longer pollen seasons and high levels of pollen certainly can exacerbate symptoms for people with allergic rhinitis and for those who previously had minimal symptoms," said the AAAAI's Estelle Levetin, who was not involved in the study.

Allergic rhinitis -- or hay fever -- is a reaction to indoor and outdoor airborne allergens, such as pollen. About 25 million Americans suffered from hay fever in the past year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of all Americans with hay fever last year were children.


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