If you have lived elsewhere in the U.S. but moved to the South and suddenly started experiencing allergies, you’re not alone. Many people report developing or new or worse allergies after moving to the South.
Why Are Allergies Worse in the South?
The South has longer allergy seasons, meaning people who live there are exposed to pollen for longer. In addition, because Georgia has warmer winters, plants don’t die or become dormant, which also leads to increased exposure.
People who live in areas with a shorter allergy season are only exposed to the first phase of pollen, called the “priming effect,” which typically causes runny nose and congestion. But in regions where the season is prolonged, we get the priming effect plus a second blast of pollen, leading to longer and more severe symptoms.
What Is the Source of the Pollen?
In the Atlanta area, most of the pollen comes from hardwood trees, in addition to oaks, willows, pines, sycamores, beeches, grass and weeds.
“(Pine pollen) is a very large pollen,” explained local allergist Dr. Lily Hwang. “And when they’re that large, they tend to not cause an immunologic response, and they cause more of an irritant response. And so, patients may think they may be allergic to all these other allergens, but they may just be having an irritant response.”
We Live in the ‘Pollen Belt’
Dr. Clifford Bassett, a New York-based allergist, referred to the South as the “Pollen Belt” in his book The New Allergy Solution.
Big cities within the Pollen Belt are especially insufferable for allergy patients due to pollution. Pollution releases carbon dioxide, which feeds plants, and in turn creates more pollen.
According to Dr. Bassett, “When pollen interacts with some air pollutants, it causes the pollen grains to split or explode,” which makes it easier for the particles to enter your eyes, ears and nose. “In an area where you have warm temperatures, pollution and pollen, that’s what we call that ‘triple whammy.’” If you’re ready to seek treatment for your allergies, call the experts at ENT of Georgia today.