After months of bare trees and snow, Spring is a welcome change — but with gorgeous blooms come the itchy, watery, stuffy symptoms of seasonal allergies. And now, that might be true even if you've never suffered from allergies before.
"Climate change is making allergies worse," Amiinah Y. Kung, MD, an allergy and immunology specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, told POPSUGAR. "Winters aren't as cold, so there isn't much of a freeze, and with seasonal warming beginning earlier, it makes Spring particularly bad." A longer, harsher season can mean that some people develop symptoms for the first time, while others simply feel worse.
Pollution also plays a role in this trend. "Pollutants like smog and carbon dioxide interact with pollen, which can make your reaction to it worse," Dr. Kung explained. But pollution also puts stress on the plants themselves. "They release more pollen to make sure they reproduce, and the pollen becomes more potent," she said.
So, the probability that your itchy throat or runny nose is a symptom of seasonal allergies — even if you've spent much of your life allergy-free — is relatively high. "Each year you're exposed to allergies, you have the potential to develop more of them," Dr. Kung said.
If you think the change in seasons is to blame for your symptoms, you should see an allergist. "I always recommend allergy testing to confirm if it's allergies and to know what you're allergic to," she said. This can help you and your doctor determine a proper treatment plan — but if you need quick relief, Dr. Kung suggests taking an over-the-counter antihistamine or nasal spray.