MONDAY, Feb. 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) — People living in urban areas report significantly worse hay fever symptoms than those living in rural areas, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in Scientific Reports.

Ann Gledson, from University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the relationship between symptom severity and air quality, weather, and land use using atmospheric sensor data with real-time, geo-positioned hay fever symptom reports. The analysis included 36,145 symptom reports submitted over five years (2016 to 2020) by ≥700 U.K. residents through a mobile application.

The researchers found that urban areas recorded significantly higher symptom severity and longer symptoms for all years except 2017, while rural areas did not record significantly higher symptom severity in any year. There was a correlation between symptom severity and more air quality markers (e.g., ozone) in urban areas than rural areas, suggesting that differences in allergy symptoms may be due to variations in the levels of pollutants, pollen counts, and seasonality across land-use types.

“The relationship between where people lived and the symptoms they experience was clear, but why people experience worse symptoms in urban areas is complex,” a coauthor said in a statement. “There may be many aspects of the city environment that have a negative impact on respiratory health.”

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