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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs