No snow = nose blow: Mild winters make for longer allergy seasons


Winter came and went in central Ohio without much notice – not too cold, not too snowy. Not so much skiing or sledding either.

Sadly for allergy sufferers, what we missed in snow, we’ll make up for in pollen.

Why is it worse this year?

We talked to our allergy experts and they told us how weather and pollen go hand-in-hand – even outside of allergy season, making allergy season worse than it might have otherwise been. That’s because pollen counts drop on cold, wet days, but increase in warm, dry and windy weather.

“With our mild winter, the fall weed pollens stayed around longer, and the spring tree pollens are starting to peak earlier than they have in years,” says Ohio State allergist Rekha Raveendran, MD. “Allergy sufferers are experiencing symptoms much earlier and for a longer period of time than they have in the past.”

And spring’s swings in temperature don’t help either, says Dr. Raveendran. “The large fluctuations in temperature and barometric pressure can lead to nasal congestion in people who do not suffer from pollen allergies, and worsen symptoms in people already suffering from their pollen allergies.”

So what’s the cure? 

Until the weather gives your sinuses a break, Dr. Raveendran recommends a trip to the drug store: “Over-the-counter antihistamines are a good first step for symptom relief.”

People who have worsening symptoms or aren’t getting relief with over-the-counter antihistamines should contact an allergist. Dr. Raveendran and her Allergy and Immunology colleagues can help.

(This article originally published April 20, 2016)

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