The earth is getting much hotter – and the effects of extreme weather patterns felt across the U.S. have also led to longer pollen seasons, worsening symptoms for allergy sufferers.
But did you know the effects of much warmer temperatures are amplified in cities? So, if you live in or near a major urban area, your allergies may be much worse.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), warmer temperatures are felt more intensely in cities due to the “urban heat island” effect, caused by more buildings, roads, population, and fewer green spaces.
Additionally, smog and air pollution from increased CO2 levels in cities generates higher ragweed pollen levels – up to 7X higher for an average increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, than surrounding rural areas.
These combined factors can increase allergic sensitivity. When ground level ozone pollution levels are high, it takes much less ragweed pollen to trigger an allergic response. Allergens in pollen grains can stick to tiny diesel exhaust particles which can penetrate deep in the lungs and remain there for a long time, which prolongs allergy suffering.
If you live in a city with higher-than-average seasonal pollen counts, here are some tips to cope:
- Check pollen counts On high pollen count days, stay indoors in a room with good air filtration.
- Maximize your green space by adding plants with little or no allergic pollen such as these types, recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). Plants can help cool things down and absorb CO2 as well.
- Use public transit or carpool whenever possible to reduce pollutants and CO2
- Plan your outdoor activities accordingly, depending on your allergy: ragweed pollen peaks in early midday, while grass pollen counts are higher in late afternoon and early evening.
- Consider installing a green roof to reduce urban island heat effects and improve air quality.
- Consider a non-invasive, drug-free treatment device like ClearUP® for sinus pain and congestion from allergies. ClearUP is a bioelectronic device that works with the body’s neural pathways to target sinus pain and congestion and has undergone a full FDA review for safety and effectiveness.
If you’re taking allergy medications, check with your doctor and take extra precautions during the warmer months as these may increase your risk of over-heating or dehydration, among other things.
2022 Allergy Capitals Report (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, AAFA)
High Ozone and Pollen Levels Could Worsen Allergies (Scientific American)
6 Ways to Keep Exercising Outside With Allergies (WebMD)