ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
CANCER
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
CAREGIVING
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
Olive Oil May Be Key to Mediterranean Diet's Benefits
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
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
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
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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