ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
CAREGIVING
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
FITNESS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
It Pays to Eat Less as You Age
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Add your Article

Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Climate change isn't only bad for the Earth, it may be bad for your health -- especially if you have allergies or asthma.

Global warming is making pollen seasons last longer, creating more ozone in the air, and even expanding the areas where insects flourish, putting more people with bee allergies at greater risk, experts say.

"Climate change will cause impacts in every area. Wet areas will get wetter, and drier climates are getting drier," said Dr. Jeffrey Demain, director of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska, and a clinical associate professor at the University of Washington.

Those changes will mean more people with allergies and asthma will suffer. In wet areas, mold allergies will spike, while in drier areas pollens and other airborne irritants will become more of a problem, he said.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it believes carbon dioxide and five additional greenhouse gases are dangerous to human health. This finding may eventually lead to environmentally friendly changes, such as regulations for cleaner energy and more fuel-efficient cars.

But, right now, problems caused by climate change are already evident, especially in Alaska, Demain said.

"There's been a significant shift in the ecosystem because of the rises in winter temperatures," he said. "On average, Alaska's temp has risen 6.4 degrees in winter and 3.4 degrees overall. And, the earlier the snow melts, the earlier the pollen cycle begins."

In addition to longer pollen seasons, the plant and tree life is changing along with the warmer temperatures. Demain said it's estimated that 90 percent of the Alaskan tundra will be forested by 2100, and that the types of trees that are most common are changing, too.

The warmer temperatures are also attracting insects. In the past, Alaska hasn't had too many stinging insects. But, said Demain, northern Alaska has recently seen a 620 percent increase in the number of people seeking care for bee stings.

Although Alaska's experience may be more dramatic than the rest of the United States, it's definitely not the only region that's experiencing change.

"We're having warmer, wetter winters, which lead to long springs and an increase in seasonal allergens," said Dr. David Peden, director of the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Peden also said that ozone levels are higher, which causes more asthma symptoms.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? Both Peden and Demain said that just being aware of the problem is the first step. Next, is to be sure you know specifically what you're allergic to, and then be aware of pollen and mold cycles so you can properly adjust your behavior when those levels are high.

"Pollens are usually highest in the mornings, but grass is elevated in the morning and evening. If you're tree- or weed-allergic, plan outdoor activities for the afternoon or evening. If you're grass-allergic, you might want to plan to be outside midday. Warm, sunny, dry days are usually the ones with the greatest pollen," Demain said.

Of course, it's not always possible to stay indoors, and treatments are available that can help you live with allergies and asthma.

"As mundane as this sounds, if you have allergic disease or asthma, consult with an allergist so that you have maximal therapy and information on seasonal concerns. If you're in an area with lengthy pollen seasons, allergy shots might be useful," Peden said.

"The climate is changing, and it's changing at an unprecedented rate. Whether it's a natural cycle, or whether humans are the cause, we have to recognize that this is happening," said Demain, who added, "Every small step [such as using compact fluorescent bulbs or driving less] is important. If we all take that step, we can have a big impact."

More information

To track pollen levels near you, visit the National Allergy Bureau.



SOURCES: Jeffrey G. Demain, M.D., director, Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska, clinical associate professor, University of Washington, and adjunct professor, University of Alaska, Anchorage; David Peden, M.D., M.S., professor, pediatrics and medicine, associate chair for research, chief, Division of Immunology and Infectious Disease, and director, Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Last Updated: May 11, 2009

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