The latest dirt on allergies

I have become one of those little old ladies who always has a crumpled tissue stuffed up her sleeve or in her pocket. I’ve always had the tissue, so it appears the only change is that I am now old and sort of little.
I take no joy in learning that I have lots of company. The latest report from the ecologists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has found that global warming and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels is supercharging the growth of ragweed. But ragweed isn’t the only culprit.
Studies at Duke University show elevated carbon dioxide also increases pollen production of certain pine trees, causing an epidemic of new allergy cases. Did I just hear the death knell for the term “clean mountain air?”
It looks like our very bad habits have not only honked up our weather, but we have brought sneezing, sniffing and itching down upon our stuffed-up heads. I would love to be smug about this, but I can’t remember the last time I was able to use the carpool lane. If my sneezing fits get worse, I may take out a loan and buy everyone I know an electric car.
The very best news from the report blamed an increase in allergies on the fact that children spend too much time indoors. Mothers, rejoice! Your children need to be outdoors more and exposed to dirt and the elements, including pollen. I don’t think that’s what my mother was thinking about with the edict, “Go outside and play!” but we can now revive it with an absolutely clear conscience.
Allergists claim we have also become too clean. Hey, I knew that. Why do you think I have always refused to do much mopping or scouring? What? You thought I was just lazy? Tsk.
I suspect that researchers may have only dropped by my mother’s house for that research, skipping mine entirely. Or is that what my mom meant when she said my house was like a giant science experiment?
Still, I intend to celebrate scientists’ findings that say using household cleaning sprays like furniture and glass cleaners and air fresheners more than once a week can lead to allergies. Who knew I had such wisdom so far ahead of my time? Let’s hear it for biannual cleaning bursts.
The lame truth is that, pollution or not, my immune system has always been just a wee bit overprotective. One might liken it to a really big, but stupid, bodyguard who just finds it simpler to smack down anyone who gets within 10 feet of me. It seems I have always had an overtrained Histamine Corps whose weapon of choice is the inflammatory response.
The fact that I snored like a stevedore at the age of 12 was my first clue. The four-page sheet they handed me after skin tests, listing all the dust, pollen, mold and animal dander I was allergic to, cinched it. My favorites on the list were Russian thistles, known to most as tumbleweeds, and some strange plant called Mugwort. My least favorite were sweet, fluffy kittens.
My fellow allergy sufferers. Put away your cleaning tools, chase your children outside, lock the car in the garage and put your feet up. If anyone criticizes, remind them you are only trying to make the world a healthier place.


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