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Why Your Allergies Feel Worse This Year

With 1 in 4 Americans affected, seasonal allergies are more common than ever. And if you feel like your allergies are getting worse every year, you’re not alone.

3 Reasons Why Allergies Are Worsening

1️⃣ Male Trees
🌳 Did you know that cities often choose to plant male trees? It's because male trees don't produce seeds or fruit, minimizing maintenance. However, male trees release more pollen, which may increase allergy symptoms among urban populations, a theory termed "botanical sexism." (Gentzler & Fantis, 2022)

2️⃣ Warmer Temperatures
💧 Rising temperatures are causing earlier and longer plant blooming periods, leading to extended allergy seasons. Increased rainfall and stronger winds may spread and amplify the effects of pollen, exacerbating allergic reactions.

3️⃣ Pollen Potency
☁️ Higher carbon dioxide levels are not only making pollen more abundant but also more potent, affecting the impact on allergy sufferers. Forecasts suggest a continual increase in pollen's potency, promising more challenging future allergy seasons. (Goodman, 2024)

How to Tell If It's Your Allergies or a Sinus Infection

🌼 Seasonal Allergies

  • Itchy, Watery Eyes: Predominantly seen with allergies, not typical in sinus infections.
  • Clear Nasal Discharge: Usually thin and clear, unlike the thicker discharge seen in infections.
  • Treatment: Typically managed with antihistamines, nasal sprays, and avoiding allergens.

🦠 Viral Sinus Infection

  • General Malaise: Often accompanied by body aches and a mild fever.
  • Rapid Onset: Symptoms can appear quickly and are usually widespread.
  • Treatment: Supportive care including rest, hydration, and over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers.

🧫 Bacterial Sinus Infection
Symptoms lasting >10 days

  • Thick Discharge: Characterized by thick, green or yellow nasal discharge.
  • Facial Pain: Pain around the sinuses, worsening with bending forward.
  • Treatment: Requires medical evaluation, often treated with antibiotics.

Common characteristics of each ailment are listed, but there may be exceptions. Always consult a doctor.

💊 Treatment for Allergies and Sinus Infections

Seasonal Allergies & Viral Sinus Infections
If you have:

  • Nasal Congestion (Duration: <10 days)
  • Mild Cough, Sore Throat, or Facial Pressure
  • No Fever Present


  • Oxymetazoline nasal spray (generic for Afrin®) 2 sprays in each nostril every 12 hours for not more than 3 days.
  • Fluticasone propionate nasal spray (generic for Flonase®) 1 spray in each nostril once daily.
  • Ibuprofen 600 mg every 6 hours or acetaminophen 1000 mg every 6-8 hours as needed for pain (do not exceed 3000 mg acetaminophen per day).

Bacterial Sinus Infections
If you have:

  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Severe facial pain
  • Persistent nasal congestion lasting more than 10 days


  • Seek medical attention
  • Amoxicillin-clavulanate (generic for Augmentin®) 875 mg-125 mg twice daily for 7 days
  • Or, if allergic to penicillins, doxycycline 100 mg twice daily for 7 days.
    Remember, most "sinus infections" do not require antibiotics.

And, immediate medical care is essential if you experience persistent fever not improved by medication, vision or hearing changes, eye bulging, severe headache, or facial muscle paralysis, as these could indicate more severe conditions like an abscess or meningitis.

Always consult a doctor. Frequent seasonal allergy sufferers may benefit from preventive treatment with your primary care doctor or an allergist.

Learn more and see algorithms for treatment of common illnesses in the Duration Health Field Guide (free 122-page PDF download).

Seasonal Allergies vs. Anaphylaxis

Seasonal allergies are different than a "true" allergy to food or medication.

🌳 Seasonal Allergies are triggered by environmental allergens like pollen. Symptoms are usually confined to sneezing, itchy eyes, and nasal congestion, rarely life-threatening.

"True" Allergies to Food 🥜 🦐 or Medication 💊 involve more severe reactions that can affect multiple organ systems and lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.

Understanding this distinction is vital because it affects treatment choices, especially in emergencies where knowing about a medication or food allergy can be critical.

Anaphylaxis is treated with (epinephrine (EpiPen). Anaphylaxis is defined as a severe allergic reaction characterized by swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, shortness of breath, vomiting, low blood pressure, and rash. If anaphylaxis is suspected, give epinephrine immediately and seek further medical attention.

⛑️ Be Your Own First Responder

Duration Health medical kits include:

  • Emergency medications to treat seasonal allergies
  • Emergency antibiotics to treat bacterial sinus infections
  • EpiPens to treat anaphylaxis
  • Doctor support to guide appropriate usage
  • Kits are designed for adults, kids and families traveling or living where medical care is limited.

Learn more and get your Med Kit at durationhealth.com

This information is for your general knowledge and is not medical advice. Talk to a doctor, or call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Only your Duration Health provider can decide whether it is medically appropriate for you to receive prescriptions. See more important disclaimers at durationhealth.com