Blooming trees are a sign of spring! But they’re also a sign of allergy season.

“It’s terrible. Stuffiness, congestion, sleepiness even. Yeah, it’s miserable,” said Linda Barone of New Haven.   

Sufferers like Linda are feeling the effects of buds flowering late this year.    

Dr. Francis Lobo added, “Because March was so cool, that the tree pollenization was delayed and now it is really exploding on us.” 

What’s likely contributing to all of this?

Dr. Lobo, who specializes in allergy and immunology at at Yale School of Medicine, said climate change is the culprit. “There are clear data about the length of the pollen season being longer,” he stated.

“Clearly, the last several decades have shown we’ve had longer warm seasons and clearly warmer temperatures. There’s also the notion of stressing plants with drought also makes them pollinate more vigorously so the plants are both growing longer, pollinating for a longer period of time and maybe being stressed a little bit more so they release more pollen,” Dr. Lobo added.

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A so-called super pollen.  

“I think the symptoms are more severe,” said Dr. Lobo, “I don’t think the pollen granule itself is different, but its effect and its duration and its quantity is different.”   

For those with watery eyes and sneezing, there is over-the-counter relief medication.

He shared, “In terms of therapy, the data are suggesting nasal steroid sprays are the single best thing to do, but those have to be used everyday.” 

Dr. Lobo said practical steps like limiting outdoor exposure to the sticky pollen, closing windows, and changing clothes when back inside can work.                          

“And try to wash off, but you can’t do that every time you get inside,” said Linda. 

Cordalie Benoit, also of New Haven, offered another suggestion, “I don’t have a lot of them, I don’t. I also take local honey which is supposed to help with allergies.”

Dr. Lobo pointed out climate change was the focus of a recent global allergy conference. 

Worldwide, he said, there’s also the issue of pollution compounding the problem.  

Unless there’s a dramatic shift, Dr. Lobo commented to expect pollen season to extend a few days every year.