Spotlight on Spring Allergies on the West Coast
Stormy days put a damper on outdoor plans and on top of that, the weather can also affect a range of health conditions from headaches to asthma and allergies.
According to Dr. Alan Goldsobel of Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California, and Tivic Health Medical Advisory Board Member, “Heavier rainfall this year is anticipated to bring higher pollen levels much earlier this spring. During steady rainfall, pollen is washed away and kept from flying through the air – which can improve allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms (nose and eye problems caused by allergens).”
The rain’s ability to reduce pollen in the air is short-lived. After a good rainfall, plants tend to grow, flower, and produce more pollen. Heavy rains can also break up larger clumps of pollen, especially grass and weed pollen – which can become airborne more easily when the rain stops.
And if a big cold front is on the back end of that rainstorm – a common recurrence along the west coast this year – higher wind gusts will toss that pollen around quite a bit; so it’s not unusual to see higher pollen counts after heavy rain.
According to UCLA Health, this year, record rainfall and stormy weather in California and the Pacific Northwest have already worsened allergy symptoms for many adults and children. Heavy rains have pummeled pollen into smaller particles that are more easily inhaled and reach deeper into the lungs – so symptoms have been more persistent and worse.
Physicians have noticed an increase in consultations for nasal congestion, runny nose, and a cough that doesn’t go away. There is also symptom overlap with a fall and winter prolonged surge in upper respiratory illnesses.
If you suffer from mold allergies, your symptoms may act up after a good downpour, or even after several days of high humidity. Wet conditions invite more mold to grow, especially outdoors in grass or leafy piles, or around areas in your home that are prone to being damp.
What are some drug-free ways to manage your allergy symptoms?
- Minimize your exposure as much as possible by monitoring your allergy tracker for what to expect in your area and avoid the outdoors before a storm and the first few days afterward. Stay home and keep your windows closed.
- If you use a humidifier, keep humidity levels in your home between 40-50%.
- Clean and change the filter in your humidifier on a regular basis so mold does not grow in the unit. If possible, use distilled or demineralized water in your humidifier as high levels of minerals in tap water can increase bacteria growth, resulting in white dust which can irritate the sinuses.
- Check for leaks in your roof or poor drainage outside your home before a big rainstorm to prevent sudden moisture buildup in your ceiling or walls – where mold can grow unexpectedly.
- Use a saline spray or nasal irrigation to help decrease swollen nasal passages.
If your symptoms are severe, consult with a board-certified allergist about immunotherapy (desensitization) treatment which can be given as allergy shots, tablets, or drops under the tongue.
Consider using ClearUP, a non-invasive bioelectronic sinus device that treats nasal congestion and sinus pain/pressure associated with seasonal allergies. ClearUP is 100% drug-free and provides lasting relief, allowing patients to breathe better, faster.