Allergy making you sneeze more? Blame climate change


You may be hearing “Bless you!” and “Gesundheit” more as you get older. And it may not be only your allergy to flowers and grass that is to blame. Scientists say that climate change could make your allergy worse, if that’s why you’re sneezing. If you’ve already found that that an allergy has got worse with age, sorry to tell you that it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better.

A research team at Amherst University in the US grew plants in a laboratory with carbon dioxide and ozone levels that mimic the predicted effect of fossil fuel emissions on our earth’s climate. What they found is bad news for those of us who have an allergy to grass and pollen. And even worse news for the many whose allergies seem to be increasing as they get older.

One expected effect of climate change on human health is increasing allergic and asthmatic symptoms through changes in pollen biology… Our findings provide evidence for significant impacts on human health worldwide as a result of future climate change.

– new study led by researcher Jennifer Albertine in Public Library of Science journal PLOS One, 5 November 2014

My New Old Self has already brought you the bad news about your nose getting bigger and drooping – yes, drooping! – as you age. Now we learn, from the journal Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, that this can lead to geriatric rhinitis AKA Oldtimers Hay Fever. And that it’s worse for women after menopause. This is apparently because aging nasal hairs beat less often, allowing allergens and other yukky stuff to clog up nasal cavities.

An allergy is not the only reason that older women suffer when they sneeze. What am I talking about? Here’s a hint…

card telling you to call your mother because it's your fault that she pees every time she sneezes

Don’t panic. There are things we can do about this. Like supporting measures to mitigate the ecological damage we are inflicting on our world. There’s also something that’s a bit easier to achieve: shower immediately after you come home from a jaunt in the great outdoors. Instead of disseminating the allergens you’ve picked up all over your house, take off your clothes, throw them in the laundry hamper and jump into the shower.

Sure, increased sneezing would not be the worst thing about climate change. But it’s no fun for allergy sufferers. Maybe the predicted exacerbation of allergies will convince climate change denialists to join the fight to save our planet. At least the ones who find themselves sneezing more and more.


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