Long Winter May Lead to “Pollen Vortex”

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Brace yourself, allergy sufferers. Experts are saying that due to a long, wet winter, this spring is looking to pack a powerful pollen punch.

With the ice-cold days of the polar vortex and chilly temperatures that have lasted well past the start of spring, plants and trees are just now bursting into bloom. Normally, a slower transition between winter and spring allows plants to bloom gradually. According to several experts, however, this year, many plants may bloom suddenly and all at once. Plus, we may see overlapping between pollen coming from trees and grasses, which normally bloom in separate seasons. This could spell double trouble for people who suffer from hay fever.

Prior studies have also suggested that wet, stormy winters such as this past one often result in allergy seasons that begin earlier and last longer.

People suffering from allergies can try a few tricks to avoid the onslaught of pollen. Keeping your hands, face and hair washed can help cleanse away particles that stick to your skin, and wearing big sunglasses can help keep pollen from irritating your eyes. Keeping windows closed when possible and avoiding window fans can help keep pollen out of your living spaces. You can learn more allergy survival tips here.

And new hope may be on the horizon, especially for people with persistent or severe allergies. Earlier this month, the FDA approved the first under-the-tongue medication for the treatment of some grass allergies that cause hay fever. The daily medication, called Oralair, is prescription-only and is ideally started four months before the beginning of allergy season. The first dose must be taken in a doctor’s office so that any adverse reactions can be monitored.

Hay fever affects approximately 30 million Americans and over 500 million people worldwide. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal itchiness, running rose or congestion and itchy, watery eyes.