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ANY QUESTIONS: Are allergies in Missouri worse than they are in other parts of the country?

Thursday, July 3, 2014 | 4:45 p.m. CDT

Have a question about goings-on around town? This is part of a project called "Any Questions?" that takes on community curiosities and tries to address them. Submit your questions to submissions@ColumbiaMissourian.com or by using the form below this story.

COLUMBIA — A reader asked if allergies in Missouri are worse than in other parts of the country. Cindy Rose,a nurse practitioner for ENT and Allergy Center of Missouri, said "yes."

According to Rose, Missouri is worse than other parts of the country for seasonal allergies because of the climate and environment. There are many trees and weeds in the state that are not found in other parts of the country, and the pollen seasons are typically longer here. Missouri also has more agricultural dust and higher mold counts in the spring than other areas have.

Marcy Markes, a nurse at Columbia Allergy and Asthma Specialists, said that though there are many allergens in Missouri that can cause allergies, a person must have a genetic predisposition to being allergic to experience symptoms.

"Not everyone is allergic, and not everyone is allergic to the specific pollens that are present in Missouri," she said. "Yes, the allergy seasons are bad this year — if you are allergic."

Markes also said allergies are increasing about tenfold every decade, and we as a society are becoming more allergic.

There are a couple theories about why this is happening.

"First, we are too clean. Everything is antibacterial, and we do not allow our own immune systems to develop and mature as it once did to better combat things like allergies," Markes said. "The other is the greenhouse effect. Everything is blooming with more vigor and strength than before."

To relieve allergy symptoms, Rose recommends showering or rinsing off at night. 

"Nasal saline rinses daily will help to decrease symptoms," she said. "There are also several over-the-counter medications that will help to alleviate symptoms such as antihistamines."

If your symptoms persist even after taking these steps, it is probably time to see an allergist, Rose said. 


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