Allergy seasons are growing longer and stronger—and autumn 2011 is shaping up to be one of the worst on record, says Dr. Frederick Schaffer, a board certified allergist in private practice. Why?
1. Pollen seasons are getting longer.
“Ragweed usually dies off as the weather gets colder,” explains Dr. Schaffer, who is a fellow at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “But a pretty good study in Minnesota showed the ragweed pollination season increased by up to 27 days in 2010, and the fault wasn’t due to a late frost.” This means that millions of Americans with ragwood allergies will most likely sneeze and rub their eyes up to nearly a month longer than average in the northernmost parts of North America, perhaps even into November.
In addition, reports from the East Coast indicate that tree pollen season—the bane of springtime allergy sufferers—may be lasting longer than usual, too.
2. More people are getting allergies. Just how many more is hard to pinpoint, but there’s little doubt the number of Americans with allergies is much higher now than 30 years ago. “Three factors are contributing to a general rise in allergies,” explains Dr. Shaffer. “Better diagnostics; the general population is much more knowledgeable than they were 20 years ago about potential problems; and, as air and possible water pollution worsens in urban centers, we see more symptoms among the people living in those areas.”
While non-sedating antihistamines, steroid sprays, and eyedrops offer a temporary fix, “seasonal allergy sufferers won’t get relief without an accurate allergen test,” says the expert.
Allergy (or “scratch”) testing with a tiny comb is typically performed in practices specializing in allergies and immunology.
One company, San Antonio-based United Allergy Labs where Dr. Shaffer is Chief Medical Officer, contracts with primary care physicians to set up labs in their offices where patients can be tested and given allergy shots for affordable, long-lasting relief. Visit the company website or call the corporate office (210-265-3181) for local practices that may be utilizing the innovative service.