Allergy Updates

Brutal Allergy Season Expected.
ABC World News (4/13, story 9, 1:30, Muir) reported, “We’re going to turn now to what is expected to be a brutal allergy season.” Due to the polar vortex and a longer lasting winter in much of the country, “so much is budding out there at once, it’s creating what some are calling the pollen vortex.”
        NBC Nightly News (4/13, story 11, 1:25, Quintanilla) reported that Dr. Mika Roberson, of the Care Point Health Medical Group in Hoboken, NJ, explained that immunotherapy shots taken three to six months before high pollen season may help some people, but people suffering right now are advised to see their physicians and “get skin tested” to ascertain precisely what allergens are bothering them. Over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines can provide some relief.
        The ABC News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/14, Mohney) website reports, ABC News medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton, MD, “says there are new medications available to those in need including Oralair [grass pollen allergen extract], a new medication made up of freeze-dried grasses that can help combat allergies.” According to experts, “using a neti pot, showering before bed to get rid of pollen particles on the body and keeping windows closed to keep out errant pollen particles are all key.” The New York Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, O'Neill) and the Slate Magazine Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Holthaus) “Future Tense” blog also covered the story.

SLIT may benefit some patients with allergies, allergic asthma.

USA Today (3/27, Payne, 1.71M) reports, "Under-the-tongue drops instead of allergy shots may be a good option for some patients who suffer from allergies and allergic asthma, according to a new analysis" published online March 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore looked at studies in which researchers put small amounts of an inhaled allergen, such as mold and pollen, in liquid drops under the tongue. The review found that such drop therapy is a safe and effective alternative to a weekly allergy shot for boosting immunity."

        The Baltimore Sun (3/27, Dance, 184K) "Picture of Health" blog reports that the analysis "summarizes 63 studies and makes a case for what is known as sublingual immunotherapy [SLIT]. The treatment is popular in Europe but is less common in the US. 

        Medscape (3/27, Brown) reports, "The investigators found that the evidence was strong in support of the use of sublingual immunotherapy for the control of asthma symptoms; eight of 13 studies reported greater than 40% improvement vs the comparator." However, "the evidence was moderate in support of the use of sublingual immunotherapy for the control of rhinitis or rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms; 9 of 36 studies reported greater than 40% improvement vs the comparator." Finally, "the evidence was moderate in support of the use of sublingual immunotherapy for decreasing medication use, with a greater than 40% decrease in medication use in 16 of 41 studies."


This Year's Spring Allergy Season May Be Longer, Powerful, Allergists Say.

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Payne) reports the spring allergy season in 2013 could last longer and produce stronger reaction, citing allergists. The paper says "blooming trees have been releasing pollen into the air, triggering allergic reactions in some people." Richard Weber, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says "increased mean temperatures from climate change affect tree pollination." William Berger, an adviser for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, says "many people with spring and summer allergies may not get relief until July, when it gets very hot and pollen counts go down."


With Warmer Climate Comes A Longer Allergy Season.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/3, O'Connor) "Well" blog reports, "Across the country this year, doctors noted a rush of patients showing up with cold and flu symptoms weeks before the start of spring. For many, the cause was not a bug or virus, but allergies." According to the Times, recent studies suggest that "pollen is indeed making it into the air earlier, with more intensity, and sticking around for a longer period of time."

Early Spring Weather Exacerbates Allergies.

NBC Nightly News (3/21, story 6, 2:10, Williams) reported, "We have been reporting for days on end about the freakish warm weather that has enveloped so much of the country very early in the season, like 85 degrees in Chicago, but of course, there are downsides, especially for the 60 million Americans who suffer from allergies."

        The New York Times (3/22, Severson, Subscription Publication) reports that some researchers "blame climate change" for unseasonably warm weather. The Times adds that "some meteorologists suspect the warm weather is an effect of recent solar flares. Still others say the early spring is part of the weather pattern known as La Niña. And then there is the explanation from the National Weather Service: a large subtropical high-pressure system is lingering above the western Atlantic, blocking cold air from blowing down."

      USA Today (3/22, Rice) reports that "the surreal heat that's baking much of the central and eastern USA has unleashed an unusually early and intense blast of tree pollen, making life miserable for tens of millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies." The story mentions that "one of out five Americans - roughly 50 million people - have allergies, says Angel Waldron, a spokeswoman with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Waldron adds that the earlier starts to spring are leading to a longer period of time that patients are dealing with their symptoms."

        The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, O'Connor) reports in its "Well" blog that "in some parts of the country, allergists say they have been seeing a rush of patients as far back as February experiencing sneezing, sniffling and stuffed sinuses brought on by a weak winter and unexpectedly balmy weather."

        The AP (3/22, Edwards) notes that "doctors say the spring misery stretches from Mississippi to Ohio and from Georgia to Texas, where drought conditions have exacerbated the problem. Forecasters and allergists blame the unseasonably warm weather, and few cold snaps, for causing plants to bloom weeks early and release the allergy-causing particles."

        Describing the situation in Knoxville, Tennessee, WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/22, Nierenberg) adds that "it's not just the blooming trees and flowers that contribute to Knoxville's high pollen counts. The city is surrounded by mountains, located between the Smokies and the Cumberland Plateau, and it's also in the Tennessee Valley. That location causes pollen to get trapped in the region, where it can tickle the noses of Knoxville natives."


Climate Change May Mean More Pollen, Worse Allergy Seasons.

CNN  (11/13, Landau) "The Chart" blog reports that one of the effects of global climate change may be an increase in pollen in the air, according to an ongoing study at Rutgers University. According to Dr. Leonard Bielory, pollen counts are predicted to be "more than double" their current amounts by 2040. In addition to increased pollen counts, the models used by the study are calling for allergy season to begin earlier each year.
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