Nightmare on Allergy Street?

With Halloween rapidly approaching, do you have more than ghosts and ghouls and things that groan in the night to worry about?  If you suffer from seasonal allergies then your answer is almost certainly yes.

Seasonal allergies occur when outdoor allergens such as mold spores, tree, grass and weed pollen are inhaled and cause an allergic reaction.

This year allergy sufferers were subjected to the “perfect storm” of a mild winter, including an unseasonably warm February, and an early spring caused trees to pollinate earlier than normal.

This has been a very strange year for allergies,” says Dr. David Chudwin, an allergist from Crystal Lake, IL. “It’s been the strangest year in the 30 years that I’ve been practicing.”

The early spring was followed by a hot dry summer that kept pollen counts high, day after day.  Then in late summer and early autumn, record-breaking mold counts resulted in county wide air-quality alerts that resulted in even mild allergy sufferers dreading the outdoors.  Although mold is typically associated with dampness, mold spores also are associated with dying vegetation.

Many molds grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves, in compost piles and on grasses and grains. Unlike pollens, molds do not die with the first killing frost. And mold counts can change quickly, depending on the weather. Certain spore types reach peak levels in dry, breezy weather. Some need high humidity, fog or dew to release spores. This group is abundant at night and during rainy periods.

To makes things worse, retreating indoors may not be the answer. For, those bothered by indoor, as well as outdoor, allergens, the season of suffering is just beginning.  As we start to run furnaces and our pets elect to curl up in front of the fire, dust and dander levels start to rise.

According to most of the country’s leading expert on allergies, more Americans than ever are sneezing, sniffling and itching. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, estimates 450 million Americans suffer from allergies.

As previously reported by SRxA’s Word on Health, our squeaky clean lifestyle is probably to blame for the rising numbers.  According to the hygiene hypothesis – Children that lead too clean a life are not exposed to enough germs to properly adjust their immune system.

People who are less prone to allergies include children from large families, children who live on farms, children in underdeveloped countries,” Chudwin said.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories, we suggest a trip to your local allergist, who can help prepare you for sneeze-free trick-or-treating and the other joys of fall and winter.

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