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Springtime Allergies More Severe, Last Longer Now, Experts Say
Date:3/28/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- In much of the United States, there's little evidence of spring yet, unless you have seasonal allergies.

Folks with spring allergies are likely already experiencing sneezing, watery eyes and fatigue because of tree pollen, experts say.

The northern part of the country typically has high tree pollen levels in March, April and May, although this year's colder winter may have delayed the process in some areas, said Dr. Kevin McGrath, a spokesman for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Southern states start a bit earlier, and can have high tree pollen counts beginning in January, he said.

People with allergies, sometimes called hay fever, may notice more severe symptoms because of higher pollen counts, and allergy seasons may last longer, McGrath said.

"We've seen record pollen counts for trees and ragweed [the most common fall allergy trigger] for the past few years, and the seasons may be a bit longer -- about six to seven more days in the Midwest and a few more days in the Northeast," said McGrath. "These changes are definitely linked to higher levels of carbon dioxide."

Although he said these changes were likely because of climate change, there isn't definitive evidence to prove the link, he noted.

The delay in tree pollens this spring means that people with allergies may experience a "stacking" effect, said McGrath. Normally, different trees have peak pollen levels at different times. This year, there may be significant overlap, which may mean a tough few weeks for people with multiple tree allergies.

Dr. David Lang, section head of allergy and immunology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said it can be difficult to know if your symptoms are due to a cold or an allergy. If you have a fever, it's a cold or flu and not allergies, Lang said. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days, it's aller
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