March 24, 2022
Allergies Dampen the Thrill of Spring’s Arrival but Not Our Gratitude
Oak Pollen and Spring Mold. These may sound like names of those new subdivisions that seemingly pop-up overnight. In many areas located among the southern states of the country- they do, but they appear as allergens, not houses.
Many people see the start of spring as a welcomed change: Soft, warm breezes that stir the once-bare trees, now green and budding. The days are longer, bringing gentle rains and falling mists. But with the warm breeze comes airborne pollen and mold spores. All those gentle rains make for a wet soggy day. And if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you probably feel them with every breath you take.
Inhaled allergens send the body’s immune system into overdrive, making the advent of spring a miserable experience. In the springtime alone, 30 to 60 million people in the United States are affected by allergies to pollen or mold. Although mold is one of the few environmental allergens that isn’t dependent on a season, it does require a wet, warm environment. Welcome Spring!
It Started with a Tiny Acorn
Spring is tree pollen season. Across the country, nothing says “spring” more than yellow pollen billowing down from hundreds of oak trees. Many are the comparisons to strength and character that speak to the oak tree. They add beauty and grace to our landscape, but they also make it miserable for those people with oak tree allergies. Symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing and red, watery, or itchy eyes. Some people may also experience an itchy throat or nose, fatigue, and dark circles under the eyes.
Fortunately, with oak tree allergies, you know when it will strike. Just look at the yellow powder on the hood of your car!
Oak creates airborne pollen. There are steps you can take to manage your allergy symptoms, which will help brighten your spring. First, take your allergy medication before the day starts. Medicines like antihistamines work the fastest, but take a while to kick in.
Be sure to change your clothes after being outside for any significant amount of time. If possible, a quick shower will also rinse the pollen out of your hair. Speaking of clothing, machine dry your clothes when pollen is high. Pollen will cling to clothes hung to dry on the outside line.
Also, avoid outdoor exercise in the morning. Keep up the routine indoors or wait until evening when pollen levels are lower.
Although a spring breeze may be tempting you to throw open all the windows in the house, don’t do it! Keep house and car windows closed to lower your exposure to tree pollens.
You can also find relief from spring allergy symptoms on rainy, windless, or cloudy days.
Mold Is Growth
Favorable weather conditions can reduce airborne pollen counts. If the wind picks up, allergies will likely become worse. Mold spores work in a comparable way. Mold, like yeast and mildew, releases seeds called spores that are carried by the wind. Mold spores are abundantly present in the outside air and tend to cause the worst allergy symptoms from spring through fall. Molds can be found outdoors, and in your home as well.
Exposure to mold spores can cause some of the same reactions and symptoms that occur in pollen allergy: Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat, watery eyes etc. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. They may be year-round or flare-up seasonally, especially springtime. Many of the same steps taken to avoid exposure to airborne pollen can be used to control mold spore allergies. A number of factors can make you more likely to develop a mold allergy or worsen the one you have: Family history, occupational exposure (farming, dairy work, logging, millwork, and carpentry), and living in a poorly ventilated home or one exposed to excess moisture.
There is an extra precaution to avoiding mold spore conditions. Namely, if you have an asthma condition- as mold spores can trigger an asthma attack. If you show persistent signs such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness, see your doctor.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to control your mold allergy-related asthma is to avoid exposure. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Shift groundwater drainage away from your house by removing leaves and vegetation from around foundation and rain gutters.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation.
Use a dehumidifier in areas of your home that smell musty or damp and keep humidity levels at 50% or lower.
Be sure your HVAC uses HEPA filters and change them regularly. See that your bathrooms have proper ventilation fans and promptly remove damp towels and shower mats. Lastly, toss out or recycle old books and newspapers. If left in damp places, these quickly become moldy.
Learning all you can about seasonal allergies and mold induced allergies is a great first-step towards gaining more control of all the seasons of your life. Be sure to communicate with your allergist about any new allergy symptoms or changes in old ones. Stay current on all medications and don’t skip any doses. Welcome the learning and embrace the change that knowledge can give you.
Along with Spring Comes Gratitude
We are all grateful to be welcoming warmer weather, beautiful blossoms, and sunnier days, but here at Greater Austin Allergy we have even more to be thankful for. In March, and throughout the year, we are grateful to our providers and employees for their stellar contributions in providing excellent care to our patients. Thanks to their agility, versatility, adaptability, and capability we can present integrity, knowledge, compassion, and teamwork. We couldn’t be happier to have such an amazing team.
Next time you see a member of our team, or your provider, be sure to let them know what a wonderful job they are doing.
Happy Spring from Greater Austin Allergy & Immunology.