Paying Through the Nose for Climate Change

The sinus-ly challenged have another season to sneeze through as winter sniffles make way for springtime allergies. Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and that number is only getting bigger. Unfortunately, their stuffy, tender sinuses and itchy, watery eyes could last a lot longer this year because of climate change.

Ambrosia sp., Ragweed pollen ( flickr | Carolina Biological Supply Company )

According to a new study, global warming is extending the pollen season for ragweed, a common allergen for 30% of Americans. Ragweed allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, cause sinus congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, and general misery for many people. Researchers note that ragweed pollen season could last an extra two weeks to twenty-seven days in some areas, especially in the northern part of North America.

Allergy sufferers will be paying through the nose for climate change in more ways than one. But, people hoarding sinus medicine, taking allergy shots, and jealously guarding their box of tissues are not the only ones who should be concerned. Allergies are not a problem for many people until they cross a certain threshold of exposure. A longer pollen season could mean more first-time visitors to the allergy doctor and the allergy aisle of the drug store.

Published: February 22, 2011