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Are You Allergic to Weather?

Weather Talk
Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 10:43am

Certain types of weather can actually trigger your allergies and intensify them

I grew up with seasonal allergies my entire life, both spring and fall “hay fever” as some of us call it .There are many people around the TV station sniffing and sneezing. Our main news anchor, Keagan Harsha, has been battling the itchy eyes, sneezing , stuffiness and sinus headaches for over a month now. Yes it is much more challenging to present a newscast when you are suffering from allergies or a cold.

Different types of weather can aggravate different types of allergies. Many of us sneeze uncontrollably during springtime, when lots of pollen is floating around in the air. The symptoms are sneezing, stuffiness, headaches and even difficulty breathing. This can be a very real problem that can pose serious risks. I saw several studies online showing a surge in emergency room visits for children and adults during seasons when pollen counts rise. For those of us allergic to pollen from flowers, trees, and grasses, antihistamines help moderate the symptoms a bit, but spring and fall can be miserable. In today’s “Weather Talk” I will focus on how certain types of weather that  can actually increase our allergies and how we can limit some of our allergy symptoms.

The Wind is probably the main cause of increasing people’s allergies. When the winds are in the breezy or windy range they carry more pollen and mold and distribute them over a larger area. In the Borderland we can also add dust which is kicked up by the wind adding to our allergy aggravation. Pollens from trees, flowers and grasses carried by the wind are the main cause of our itchy eyes, sneezing and sinus problems and lung allergic reactions. This is commonly called Hay fever. When it is windy and dry, people with hay fever suffer the most.

When an area has a mild winter, like we just had here in the Borderland, the trees tend to pollinate early. The Mulberry trees are the biggest offenders and have been outlawed here locally, but there are still plenty of them around and they are pollen generating machines! I found out in my research, Trees that have very little litter or seeds around them are male trees and they produce the most amount of pollen. When buying a tree or shrub, buy a female or seed generating tree. You will have to clean your yard more but your allergies will thank you! An above average, warm spring also can increase the pollen counts. If the winter season is not very cold this can also increase the number of mold spores, increasing the symptoms for those of us that suffer from mold allergies. A quick warm up with high mold spore counts can cause asthma sufferers to have attacks! To find out more on weather and asthma read my “Weather Talk” Weather Changes Can Trigger Allergies and Asthma in Children

Light rains really do not help clean the air of pollen. Moderate to good heavy rain does clean the air out  of pollens and can give our hay fever a break. This is a double edged sword as rain causes weeds and grass to grow more quickly causing them to produce more pollen. Not good. Also, too much rain produces wet, soggy conditions, perfect for growingmold, increasing the mold spore count.

Mold Allergies-The describes mold allergies: “If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. This triggers a cascade of reactions that lead to allergic symptoms. Like other allergies, a mold allergy can make you cough, make your eyes itch and cause other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms. If you have a mold allergy, the best defense is to reduce your exposure to the types of mold that cause your reaction. While it isn't always possible to avoid mold allergy triggers, medications can help keep mold allergy reactions under control.”

In certain areas, heat and sunlight combine with pollutants to create ground-level ozone, which fires off allergies or an asthma attack. Air pollution causes inflammation of the airways for asthma sufferers. Common air pollutants, such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide act more as irritants. To find out more about the different types of pollution read my “Weather Talk”; Our Smoky, Brown Haze Is Enhanced By Winter Weather,
Smoking, tobacco smoke has long been known to be a trigger for allergies and asthma attacks.

How Do We Reduce our Allergies?
1. Plan your outdoor activities when pollen counts are the lowest, lighter wind days during the late afternoon hours or after a moderate or heavy rainfall. If there have been a couple days of rain, be careful if you have mold allergies, as there is an increase in headache causing mold spores.
2. Avoid going outdoors during the morning hours, when plants emit their largest amounts of pollen
3. Dry, windy days keep the pollen airborne longer and spread it over a larger area.
4. Look for all-female trees and shrubs to plant in your yard as they emit the least amount of pollen.
5. Replace some of your grass with insect-pollinated ground covers.
6. Watch the forecast for pollen and mold counts. Information about your local pollen level is available on the Internet or in your local paper. If pollen counts are supposed to be particularly high on a given day, you can play it safe by staying inside.
7. Keep windows closed at night to keep pollens and molds out. If it's hot, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
8. Rinse off in the shower at night before you go to bed and put your clothes you wore that day in another room away from where you sleep.

Hopefully we all have a better understanding of all the weather triggers for allergies and asthma and how we can create a plan to help protect ourselves. I have been implementing some of these allergy reducing steps for almost a year now and they do help. I think I will share these precautionary steps and this “Weather Talk” with my friends and coworkers that are allergy sufferers, like Keagan, our news anchor. A reduction in allergy symptoms can help all of us do our jobs better and happier!

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX

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