Allergy Seasons Are Getting Worse. Here’s How to Fight Back

Athena Merritt avatar

by Athena Merritt |

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mask guidelines, vegetarian, personal coaching, allergy season

I miss the days when a sneeze was nothing to worry about. Especially after I encountered a stranger who was not wearing a mask and spraying the air. I veered to get out of his path, and he moved — intent, it seemed, to stay in mine. I walked faster, and he pursued with his achoos.

With sarcoidosis, dodging germs is nothing new. Medically suppressing my immune system with prednisone to beat back this disease is old hat. A fool acting careless in a pandemic was no match for me, as he soon found out when I left him behind. 

We’ll all be sidestepping uncovered sneezes and coughs a lot more, because it is not your imagination: Allergy seasons are getting worse. According to an article published in the journal PNAS in February, pollen has been increasing over the years and hanging around much longer. That makes for a miserable time for everyone, now that we have to wonder whether others may have COVID-19. 

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in the U.S. More than 65 million Americans are affected by the conditions, which have no cure, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. You can view the nonprofit’s 2021 ranking of worst cities for allergy sufferers here. 

I had skin tests a couple of years ago that identified my allergens, which to my surprise were both indoor and outdoor. It not only helped me find relief, but also sort out whether sarcoidosis is the cause when symptoms flare up. That’s because allergies can make us feel much like this rare disease: achy, tired, and short of breath.

Last spring, I wrote about numerous ways to combat irritants, including frequent cleaning and using air purifiers. I recently went digging for more ways to help, and found out that our diets play a role, too. There are key foods to eat and others to avoid if trees, grass, and pollen make you miserable, according to Northwestern Medicine. 

Keeping secondary health issues in check helps our bodies better deal with the drain of chronic illness. Besides that, who wants to deal with a runny nose under a mask, and get the side eye for sneezing and coughing in public? Not many, judging by a recent survey of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll.

The survey, which the market research firm conducted on behalf of Flonase, found:  

  • 56% felt “judgmental eyes” after sneezing or coughing
  • 55% panicked when they felt the urge to sneeze
  • 59% agreed sneezing fits and allergy attacks always arrive at the worst time

Although our seasonal battles are getting harder, there is a bright spot this year: Tissues are easy to find. 


Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear. 

  • Second shot: My second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine went as smoothly as the first, with no side effects other than a sore arm. 
  • Stuffed with thanks: Chipotle Mexican Grill is thanking healthcare workers with 250,000 free burritos, and has created a virtual wall for the community to show gratitude, too. The chain is also offering eGift cards through May 9 to help support the American Nurses Foundation. 


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


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