ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
CANCER
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
EYE CARE, VISION
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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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