Google Searches for Allergy Terms Increase with Pollen Counts

Pharmacy Times, September 2014 Oncology, Volume 80, Issue 9

As pollen counts rise, so do Google searches for pollen allergy—related terms, particularly for terms related to nasal allergies, according to the results of a study published online on August 14, 2014, in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Researchers used weekly pollen counts from 2010 to 2011 in the New Jersey—New York metropolitan area, and compared them with the results of a Google Insights–generated search of volume trends for allergy-related terms. The search volume for nasal, ocular, and general allergy-related terms were combined, and ratios were compared for each category.

Online searches related to allergy terminology tended to peak in late March through early May, which corresponded to peaks in tree pollen counts. Searches for allergic rhinitis and nasal allergy—related terms increased in early March and peaked through April, whereas ocular allergy–related terms increased in April and peaked in April and May. General allergy term searches increased in late March, and reached their peak in April and May.

The ratio analysis revealed a higher search volume for nasal terms than ocular terms in the early stages of peak pollen season.

An additional analysis found a peak for grass pollen—related searches in early June, and a smaller peak in September, which researchers found corresponded to weed pollen season and a second grass pollen season.