Tuesday marks the first day of Spring. If you're an allergy sufferer, the season has probably already arrived.
If you think your allergy season seems to be starting earlier and lasting longer, you're right. The short answer is climate change.
If you're one of the ten millions of Americans with seasonal allergies, experts say global warming is changing when plants release their pollen, how long its released, and even making it stronger.
All that makes for a stronger allergy season.
Ehrman has a hard time escaping her symptoms. She says she's tried everything but can't shake a lingering cough.
"I've been on inhalers, been put on those sprays, and then I've been getting these shots on top of it," she told CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez.
As it turns out, symptoms for sufferers like Ehrman may only get worse. Experts say the rising temperatures from climate change and more carbon dioxide in the air are causing many pollen producing plants to bloom earlier and last longer, prolonging the allergy season.
"New patient visits are coming in at different times of year that I did not used to see," allergist and immunologist Dr. Joseph Shapiro said.
Shapiro says many of their symptoms are more severe than in the past, and he expects the trend to continue.
"A recent study showed that pollen counts are likely to double by the year 2040, so in a little more than 20 years we're gonna see a significant increase," Shapiro said.
Plants aren't just putting out more pollen, some studies show it's stronger pollen - meaning it's more allergenic.
There's also what some call "super pollen," when pollen grains mix in with air pollution they seem to get stickier. They can cling to eyes, lungs, and nasal passages.
For Michelle, allergy shots are finally bringing a small sense of relief.
"We've been doing about 3 a week," she said of the regimen she may need even more in the years ahead.
Luckily, there's relief available. If over the counter medications don't cut it, allergists say shots, nasal sprays, and even oral allergy drops and pills are more effective than ever. It's imperative, experts say, to start treatment before you start feeling miserable.
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