Allergy season seems to be starting earlier and earlier each year, with many people experiencing symptoms as early as February or March.
Washington D.C. residents saw an earlier spike than normal in tree pollen levels, setting a record on February 9th. But why is this happening? There are a few different factors that may be contributing to the earlier onset of allergy season:
- Climate Change: Climate change is causing earlier springs, which in turn can trigger earlier allergy seasons. According to Climate Central, carbon dioxide emissions have a direct impact on pollen concentration. As temperatures warm due to carbon emissions, plants start to bloom earlier and release more pollen. In addition, warmer temperatures also lead to longer growing seasons, which means more plants are producing pollen for a longer period of time.
- Pollution: Pollution can also contribute to the early onset of allergy season. Air pollution can increase the amount of pollen in the air by damaging plant cells and releasing more pollen.
- Urbanization: The growth of cities and suburban areas can also contribute to earlier allergy seasons. As more land is developed for housing and other uses, natural areas are destroyed, and there are fewer plants to absorb pollution and produce oxygen. This can lead to an increase in pollen concentration levels relative to oxygen in urban and suburban areas. According to tomorrow.city, vehicle exhaust fumes is a particular culprit in keeping pollen in the air.
- Changes in Land Use: Changes in land use, such as deforestation or the conversion of grasslands to cropland, can also contribute to earlier allergy seasons. These changes can alter the types of plants that grow in an area, leading to an increase in allergenic plants.
5 Ways to Manage Your Allergies This Season
If you’re one of the many FSA and HSA cardholders who are affected by allergies, there are several steps you can take to manage your symptoms and enjoy the season:
- Avoid Triggers: Try to avoid exposure to allergens as much as possible. This may mean staying indoors on high-pollen days, avoiding certain areas that have high pollen alerts, wearing a mask when working outside.
- Take Medications: Over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays can all help alleviate allergy symptoms. Luckily, all of these allergy relief products are eligible with your FSA and HSA-card. If these medications do not work for you, talk to your doctor about prescription options.
- Keep Your Home Clean: Regularly cleaning your home can help reduce the amount of allergens in the air. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and wash bedding and curtains regularly.
- Use Air Purifiers: Air purifiers can help remove allergens from the air in your home. Look for a purifier with a HEPA filter to ensure the best results. Unfortunately, air purifiers are not traditionally FSA or HSA-approved.
- Consider Immunotherapy: If your allergies are severe and not responding to other treatments, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy. This involves gradually exposing you to small amounts of allergens to build up your immune system’s tolerance.
By taking these steps, you can enjoy the spring season without suffering from allergy symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or not responding to treatment, be sure to talk to your doctor to discuss other options. If you are a major allergy sufferer, it would be important to budget for your expenses with your FSA or HSA card, as you may save a lot of money in the long run.