Experts suspect an ‘extended’ allergy season, provide tips to relieve symptoms

SALISBURY, Md. – Congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes are all symptoms that are common year-round but are even more prominent as spring time approaches.

Experts say there’s one big contributing factor to that: pollen.

“In the spring time we have a lot of plants that are wind-pollinated. So that means that the pollen is light. It goes in the air, the wind blows it,” University of Maryland Extension’s Ginny Rosenkranz said.

“Once you get that exposure that first year, its kind of the priming mechanism, and every year there after you get a more enhanced and aggressive response as time goes by,” Dr. Deckard said.

A study by Nature Communications found pollen season may be extended and even more intense than years past in the U.S. due to global warming, with pollen counts going up nearly 250-percent by the end of the century.

“As we get more and more warm days in the middle of winter, we will have more plants that are blooming earlier. That will extend the season for pollen and therefore allergies,” Rosenkranz said.

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, Dr. Nathan Deckard with Eastern Shore ENT & Allergy Associates in Salisbury says he expects to see more patients showing up to the clinic this season than the last two years.

“Just because you’re losing that mask. That masks in helping to filter not just viral particles and cold viruses, and bacteria. Its also protecting you from all the inhaled pollens that are in the air,” Dr. Deckard said.

As you plan to enjoy the warmer weather, Dr. Deckard has some tips to keep in mind to help relieve a stuffy situation.

“If you are particularly sensitive to allergens, especially if you have allergy trigged asthma, wearing your mask may not be such a bad idea to continue to protect yourself. Not necessarily from viruses and COVID, but from the allergens,” Dr. Deckard said.

“When you come back in from being outside, especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time out in your garden, wash your nose out with saline rinse. That helps to wash out that pollen so it doesn’t stick in the nose and continue to cause that allergic response. That’s something easy everyone can do.”

Dr. Deckard adds that if you can’t tolerate or don’t like using a rinse routine, a nasal spray can be of some benefit to flush out your nose. For gardeners with allergies, experts say that if you see bees around a plant that pollen is wind tolerant so those are ones you should plan to grow.

Allergist also say that maple, juniper, and elm tree pollens are currently the most potent and to watch out for them if they are growing near your home.

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