Living near equator could equate to more allergies

By Staff Writer • Published: April 10th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Allergy season is just about over, and with it your supply of tissues. But if you live closer to the equator don’t be surprised if you have some lingering sniffles and snuffles. A new study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that the higher exposure to ultraviolet-B rays could be the link.

Past studies have shown that housing, climate and social and cultural factors in different latitudes can affect those populations’ exposure to allergens. But this is the first to explore the link between U-V rays and allergies and asthma.

Another recent study found that the 10 worst cities for allergies include places as geographically diverse as Louisville, Kentucky, San Antonio, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Every year, about 40 million people are affected by allergies. They can be brought on by tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores, dust mite and cockroach allergens, and of course, pet dander.

But spring doesn’t have to spell sniffle season. Nasal sprays, inhalants and oral over-the-counter antihistamines can ease allergies. And contrary to rumors, antihistamines are not addictive … but their potency can diminish over a few months. Try switching brands if your symptoms persist. Also, O-T-C decongestants aren’t the best for allergies since they’re meant to be taken on a short-term basis.

Allergy shots taken periodically can keep symptoms to a sane level. Keep an eye on pollen counts, avoid the outdoors on particularly high pollen days, and consider wearing a mask if you must embark outdoors. To keep life bearable indoors, consider installing a HEPA filter in your home, too. And if your allergies are really bad, you may want to reconsider that big move to the equator.