Experts from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) caution that pollen season is starting earlier and lasting longer than in past decades, negatively affecting those with asthma or nasal allergies. 

Changes in the climate during that period contribute to this phenomenon, with warmer temperatures, longer growing seasons, and decreased air quality. As a result, people with allergies and asthma, and their healthcare providers, need to adjust their management plans accordingly, says the ACAAI in a press release. 

New research from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture shows that “pollen seasons start 20 days earlier, are 10 days longer, and feature 21% more pollen than in 1990.”

“It’s a pretty simple equation,” says allergist Kathleen May, MD, ACAAI president, in a press release. “More pollen means more days of suffering with asthma and allergy symptoms. People across the country are aware they need to start allergy and asthma medications sooner because symptoms arrive earlier and stay longer. As allergists, we’re watching our patients sneezing, wheezing, and dripping more. But we have the tools to help.”

Those with a pollen allergy who breathe in pollen-heavy air may experience sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat and eyes, and wheezing. Pollen can also aggravate asthma symptoms, including increased coughing and wheezing. Allergists recommend avoiding pollen if you have allergic reactions.

Two immunotherapy options are available for those with severe pollen allergies:

  • Allergy shots can help the body become less sensitive to pollen.
  • Tablets that dissolve under the tongue are now available by prescription for people suffering from grass and ragweed allergies. These medications must be started 12 weeks before symptoms are expected to begin.

Nasal allergies and asthma are connected, and many people suffer from both. Allergic asthma—where allergies are triggers for asthma symptoms—is the most common type of asthma. 

Research shows the frequency of children with nasal allergies who also have asthma can be as high as 80%. Recent research has also shown that about 75% of adults aged 20 to 40 with asthma have at least one allergy, according to a press release from ACAAI.