Allergies in a Warm Winter
Serving as Vienna, Centreville, and Arlington allergists, we have noticed that we are experiencing a relatively mild Winter so far. Some reports indicate that this is the third balmiest winter in several decades. The grass is still green in many of our yards and the air is warmer and moister than usual.
Every year, a hard freeze kills several types of weeds and keeps many molds in a dormant state for a few months. Higher than normal temperatures can not only prolong the pollen season, but it also can result in the proliferation of molds.
Molds are fungal organisms that release tiny spores into the atmosphere. These microscopic spores are inhaled by us and can reach the deeper parts of our lungs. In sensitive individuals, these can adversely affect the eyes, nose, sinuses, and lungs. We are in fact noticing higher numbers of mold-related allergy sufferers this season than in the previous years.
Some typical symptoms seen in people with mold allergies may include sneezing, itchy eyes, redness of the eyes, watery eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, post-nasal drip, itchy throat, sore throat, itchy ears, fatigue, sinus pressure and/or sinus headaches. The congestion in the nose or sinuses can block the drainage pathways from the sinuses which can predispose one to sinus infections. These sinus infections may cause facial pressure and/or pain, discolored secretions, and headaches. In individuals with a history of asthma, an exacerbation can be triggered by the mold resulting in an increase in the frequency and severity of coughing, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing.
Exposure to outdoor molds can be reduced by avoiding raking wet leaves and damp mulch. Molds need moisture to grow and indoor mold spores can be kept at low levels by closing the windows and keeping the humidity below 55%. High efficiency particulate air filters (i.e., HEPA filters) are helpful in trapping the dust mites and mold spores and recirculating fresher air. It is also interesting to note that dust mites flourish when the humidity is high. Dust mites (the main culprits of “dust” allergies) also are more prevalent during the Winter when people use their heat in their homes. Many “dust allergic” individuals also suffer from mold allergies as well, so this unseasonably warm Winter is causing even more havoc to these people.
Several over the counter and prescription medications like non-sedating antihistamines, topical ocular preparations, and intranasal sprays can effectively mitigate the symptoms when preventive measures are less than adequate. It is especially important for asthmatic individuals to take their controller medications on a daily basis to protect their lungs from allergic inflammation and thus prevent a flare-up of breathing difficulties.
The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy are always ready to answer your questions and address your concerns. Black & Kletz Allergy has 3 office locations in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area. We have offices in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA with on-site parking at each location. The Washington, DC and McLean offices are Metro accessible and there is a free shuttle between the McLean office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line. The allergy specialists of Black & Kletz Allergy treat both children and adults and have been serving the greater Washington, DC area for over 50 years. If you or someone you know suffers from allergies or asthma, please call us for an appointment. Alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours of the next business day.