News / Health

Miserable Allergies? Blame Global Warming

Studies show greenhouse effect increases pollen

Allergist Burt Wolf (left) blames global warming for the increased pollen that aggravates allergy sufferers.
Allergist Burt Wolf (left) blames global warming for the increased pollen that aggravates allergy sufferers.

Multimedia

Audio
Mike Osborne

It's springtime in the United States, a time for many Americans to enjoy the warmer weather and flowering plants. However, it can also can be a difficult time of year for the one-in-four people who suffers from seasonal allergies.

It's also a tremendous drain on the economy. The U.S. loses an estimated $700 million a year in productivity and Americans spend billions more on allergy medications and treatments.

Bad spring

This has been an especially bad spring for allergies in the southeastern city of Murfreesboro, near Nashville, Tennessee.

It's hard to beat the American South in springtime. Every tree and shrub seems to be in bloom. But all that beauty comes at a heavy price. Because of its climate and vegetation, Tennessee is routinely listed as one of the worst places in the country to live if you suffer from seasonal allergies.

Bruce Lyon, a physical trainer, is in great shape. But when spring rolls around each year, he feels all his strength and energy melt away.

"This is the saddest thing. On the most beautiful days, especially when the spring starts around and you're ready to get out and do something," says Lyon. "Then I'm so tired I didn't even feel like getting out and doing anything. I felt like 'I think I'm going to go back home and sleep.'"

It's hard to believe something as small as a grain of pollen could cause so much misery. But in vast numbers, the effect can be overwhelming. Allergist Burt Wolf says this year has been worse than usual.

It's hard to believe something as small as a grain of pollen could cause so much misery. But in vast numbers, the effect can be overwhelming.
It's hard to believe something as small as a grain of pollen could cause so much misery. But in vast numbers, the effect can be overwhelming.

Blame it on global warming?

"I mean we don't even need a calendar for a certain segment of our patient population. We know when allergy season begins for them and how it affects them. But this year many of our patients were calling two or three weeks earlier. "

Wolf believes global warming may be the culprit.

"Increased temperature to a certain degree and also increased CO2, or so-called greenhouse effect," says Wolf. "These things, in some studies, have shown to increase pollen over the last decades, 60 to 90 percent."

Allergy sufferer Steve Melton does what he can to avoid exposure to spring pollens, but it's nearly impossible.

"Leave it outside for five to six hours and the pollen residue that's on your car, you can actually write your name in," says Melton. "That's how heavy it gets. And that time of year is basically the worst time."

Melton says he can tell before he even gets out of bed what kind of day it's going to be.

"The runny nose, the watery eyes, and the sneezing…that's the one, two, three symptoms that tell me every day whether it's gonna be tough outside today."

Allergy relief

Allergies can not be cured but the symptoms can be treated. Doctor Wolf says several new medications have reached the market in recent years and allergy injections often work for more severe cases.

"The medicines are so good and so safe that there should be very few people who have to suffer day to day with allergies," says the doctor. "So people should seek care because it's out there, it's safe and they don't have to live their lives sniffling and wheezing and suffering."

With his allergies back under control, Bruce Lyon is free to enjoy one of those beautiful southern springs.

"As a matter of fact, I'm picking up about 12 flats of flowers tomorrow from a client of mine who's in the landscape business, and going to set them out for my mom this weekend. So this allows me to do that without being miserable."

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid