Google Knows When We Sneeze And Allergists Are Eager To Help

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Information is power, and what better way to get this information than Google? Sure, the world´s largest search engine is a doorway to the massive stores of the world´s collected wisdom, but it turns out this door works both ways. Google and other organizations are able to study just what it is the world is searching for and turn that into even more information, providing an insight on trends and behaviors.

One such organization looking to Google for this kind of second-hand information is the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Dr. Leonard Bielory is an allergist with the ACAAI and claims Google search information can be used to tell where allergies are breaking out geographically and which symptoms are being felt.

After analyzing Google search data, Dr. Bielory discovered that nasal allergy symptoms get the most attention on Google in between March and May, likely due to tree pollen. These Googlers often have to conduct these searches in between bouts of sneezing and sniffling, as these symptoms are most common for tree pollen allergies.

“Allergy sufferers experience heightened allergy symptoms in the spring season, and again during September due to weed pollen and grass season,” explained Dr. Bielory in a press statement.

“The peak week for all allergy symptom searches is the second week of May, suggesting sufferers may be experiencing both spring and summer allergy symptoms.”

Nasal allergy sufferers returned to Google in the fall months as well, with those experiencing eye allergies following at number 2.

Dr. Bielory and the ACAAI are taking advantage of these predictable results and suggesting those who normally experience spring-time allergies to seek out their allergist in the winter months.

“Treating symptoms early, before they appear, means less suffering,” said Dr. Bielory. “An allergist will develop a customized treatment plan to keep you living an active, healthy lifestyle.”

The ACAAI statement also cites their own research which found that their board-certified allergists were more than capable of treating allergies. The ACAAI also suggests allergy sufferers visit their site, to track their symptoms.

The ability to find this kind of information from Google is widely available to anyone and very handy for determining how many people are Googling any topic.

In fact, according to Google´s 2011 blog announcing their new service, called Correlate, the team got the idea for the tool when they noticed something similar to Dr. Bielory.

As the story goes, the team noticed in 2008 some trends about people searching flu related topics. Using this information, they were able to estimate the flu activity of some 28 countries. The Google team whipped up this little tool and put it online, available for any organization searching for a statistic to back up common knowledge and bring the customers in. Try it for yourself, you´ll be amazed at what Google knows about our habits and our allergies.

Dr. Bielory will present his research at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the ACAAI.

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