High winds expected tomorrow could cause allergies for many

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 11:18pm

For nearly 36 million Americans, dry, windy weather blows in a major bother: allergies.

Allergies to pollen, ragweed, and other common airborne triggers have doubled in the past 20 years.

"When it gets to be really high-speed winds, you really get up a lot of really small particles, which we can inhale, and they can really get deep into our lungs," says Dr. Lyndon Mansfield.

Dr. Mansfield, an allergist and immunologist in El Paso says the best way to fight it is to stay out of the wind's way.

"Common sense should prevail. If you don't have to be out in it, don't be out in it," he says.

But what about people who have to be out in it?

Dr. Mansfield says over-the-counter antihistamines are always worth a shot. But you can get a grip on your allergies by taking some of these precautions:

Keep pollen under control by washing bedding every week in hot water, and since pollen can accumulate in hair, showering before going to bed can help.

Next, clean your surfaces at home. Vacuum twice a week and wear a mask and gloves when cleaning, vacuuming, or painting to limit dust and chemical exposure.

Make sure to keep windows closed to limit the pollen entering the house, and change filters in air conditioning units and vents frequently this time of year.

If your allergies do catch up with you, rinse out your nose with over-the-counter nasal salt water that washes out anything that's deposited there and opens up your nose.

But sometimes, when your sniffling and sneezing, it can be hard to tell if you're suffering from allergies or a cold. Dr. Mansfield tells us the difference.

"If people have itchy eyes, itchy nose, or itchy nose, or itchy throat, along with their nasal symptoms, they don't have a cold, they'll almost always have allergies. An allergy is always persistent whereas in normal, healthy human beings, a cold should last 4 to 7 days," says Dr. Mansfield. 

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