May 22, 2013 8:37 AM by Elizabeth Hill
Dr. Indira Gautam says in the last couple of years she's seen more patients, more frequently and with more severe allergy symptoms.
"In the past there were three seasons in which you saw them, spring, summer, fall."
"When we have mild winters, plants become active earlier."
Horticulturist Gerald Roberts says without freezing temperatures and consistently cold weather, pollen production doesn't slow down.
"We get into January and February and they're kicking up like they would in March and April."
Many researchers and horticulturists like Roberts believe rising carbon dioxide levels are allowing plants that cause allergies flourish.
"The pollen seems to be that it's more sustaining, it comes in earlier and lasts longer."
"Things like poison ivy and ragweed are growing much more and the pollen that they're producing is much more potent."
Most allergy sufferers rely on antihistamines to treat symptoms, but there are other ways ease the pain of allergies.
Gautam says to stay hydrated and eating yogurt daily can help too. She suggests taking your shoes off before going inside your house, showering before going to bed if you've been outside and washing your sheets once a week in hot water.
Roberts says pollen counts are typically higher on sunny, breezy days and lower on cooler, cloudy days. If you have to work outdoors when pollen counts are high, wear a mask. When planning landscaping around your home, try to stick to plants with colorful flowers because they are pollinated by insects, whereas plants without flowers are wind pollinated and the biggest culprits for allergy sufferers.