If you’ve got itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezes that just won’t quit, you’re not alone; this year’s allergy season has been pretty rough. According to the Gallup WellBeing Index (which offers a fascinating array of data for statistics nerds like me), more people are suffering from more intense allergy symptoms than during the last seasons’ peak months.
Month over month since the start of 2011, more people have reported being sick with allergies than in 2010 or 2011–which indicates that not only have allergens like pollen been more pervasive than usual, but also that the season got an early start, due to warmer-than-average conditions during the winter. In fact, the same relatively high temperatures that kept flu season at bay (it was pretty mild by all accounts) seems to be what’s making more people sick now.
The fact that more people are suffering this year than in the last two years is interesting, because it points to a common misconception about seasonal allergies, which is that adults rarely develop them later in life. But that’s just not true–plenty of folks who have never batted an eye about heading out into the world on a beautiful spring day find themselves sniffling and sneezing seemingly at random. And with a particularly severe allergy season, it’s more likely that this will be the year. According to Gallup’s data, one in five Americans suffered from seasonal allergies in March.
What can you do to thwart the uncomfortable symptoms and make going outside at least marginally bearable? First, step away from the local honey, and stop avoiding flowers–these allergy season myths aren’t doing you any good. Instead, take an antihistamine an hour before you go outside, to give it a chance to get working. Or, invest in some drug-free, eco-friendly methods, like a neti pot. You can also check local pollen counts to see what kind of a day it will be, so you can be better prepared and plan fewer outdoor activities.
Have you noticed worse than average allergy symptoms this year? What are your surefire remedies? Share them in the comments.
Images: Serhiy Kobyakov via Shutterstock and Gallup