Seasonal allergies ‘intensified’ earlier this year, some experts say – NBC Chicago

Do you have the impression that your spring allergies are intensifying at the start of the year? You’re not alone.

In fact, some experts say this season is already in full swing.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot of patients come in with allergy symptoms,” said Matthew Yau, CVS MinuteClinic nurse practitioner.

While it is not necessarily unusual to see the appearance of spring allergies in March, the intensity of the start of the season is approaching earlier than normal.

According to area doctors, a more severe spring allergy season has already arrived in the Midwest.

“We’ve seen a ton of rainfall this year that can impact pollen dispersal,” said Dr. Sindhura Bandi, an allergy and immunology physician at Rush Medical Center.

A combination of fluctuating temperature and increasing heat globally due to climate change is likely what is leading to a longer and more severe allergy season, Bandi added.

In fact, a new study published this month in the journal Nature Communications has found that as the world warms, allergy season will start weeks earlier and end days later – and it will get worse as long as that it will last, with pollen levels reaching triple in some places.

It is already happening. A study done a year ago by different researchers found that from 1990 to 2018, pollen has increased and allergy season is starting earlier, largely due to climate change.

Yau said the biggest allergens seen so far in the Chicago area were ragweed and pollen.

The onset of increased allergy symptoms has been met with signs of an uptick in COVID cases, concerns over the BA.2 omicron subvariant, and the easing of many restrictions, which some suspect cause the increase in allergic symptoms.

“Allergy season is going to be a little bit more intense, it’s going to be a little bit worse in the sense that we’re starting to come out of these COVID restrictions, we’re starting to wear fewer masks than in previous years, so we’re going to be more exposed to pollen and ragweed and other types of materials that we haven’t been exposed to before, especially while wearing our masks for COVID,” Yau said.

So how do you know if it’s COVID or allergies?

According to medical experts, the only real way to know is to test.

Yau noted that many patients who come in for a COVID test also receive an allergy test, which can help determine the true cause of their symptoms.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said last month, as mitigation measures began to lift in the state and city, people should continue to stay at home if they are not feeling well, at least until they receive a negative COVID test.

“I think it’s going to be very important that people, first of all, continue to stay home when they’re sick, or at least until they’ve tested negative for COVID,” he said. she said during a Facebook Live before the city broke. its mask and vaccine mandates.

But there are common differences in symptoms, he added.

“So some things they might be looking for are fever — COVID usually has symptoms of fever, which allergies don’t,” he said. “They’ve also been shown to have other symptoms like body aches and chills. Those are other things that are a bit more specific to COVID symptoms. With our allergy symptoms, we usually have like our post nasal drip, itchy throat, sneezing and some of those symptoms.”

Overall, symptoms of COVID reported by the CDC include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tired
  • Muscle or body pain
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

“This list does not contain all possible symptoms,” the CDC says. “Please call your doctor for any other symptoms that are serious or cause you concern.”

For allergies, the CDC notes that some people may experience symptoms of rhinitis and conjunctivitis. These symptoms include:

  • Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
    • sneeze
    • runny nose
    • congestion
  • Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:
    • red, watery, or itchy eyes

Comments are closed.