Fight Back Against Spring Allergies

WI Staff | 5/7/2014, 3 p.m.
Though the allergy season in the District area began late this spring, it has is already shaping into a particularly ...
Courtesy of aafa.org

Though the allergy season in the District area began late this spring, it has is already shaping into a particularly uncomfortable one. And if recent findings from the Landover, Md.-based Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America are any indication, things could become increasingly worse area residents.

The AAFA cited in their annual Spring Allergy Capitals report that D.C. ranked 67 among “the 100 most challenging places to live with allergies” during the spring and fall seasons. The data measured and compared each season includes: pollen scores (airborne grass/tree/weed pollen and mold spores), number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient.

The worst cities for allergies are Louisville, Ky., Memphis, Tenn., and Baton Rouge, La. Baltimore ranked 73rd.

Allergy symptoms can include sneezing, swollen eyes and rashes, but allergies can trigger more serious conditions such as asthma, so people need to pay attention to their bodies.

Nearly 45 million Americans are living with nasal allergies and 25 million have asthma. These patients already have a chronic sensitivity to things like pollen, mold and other airborne allergens, but they can also be more susceptible to rapid changes in temperature and moisture, and to catching a common cold or flu. A blending of the winter and spring means these patients are at risk of multiple symptoms simultaneously. But with the proper planning and early treatment, patients can prepare and find relief.

Cities with an exceptionally high concentration of trees, grass, or weeds may have more pollen in the air, according to allergist Miguel Wolbert. Local environmental factors such as wind, humidity, typical temperatures -- and air pollution -- also play a role in allergies.

“If you are around certain river basins, such as in Ohio or Mississippi, higher pollen counts occur due to high humidity levels. Pollen thrives in high humidity,” Wolbert said.

Symptoms can include congestion and an itchy, runny nose, as well as asthma-like symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic suggests staying indoors on dry, windy days, in addition to going outside after it rains on high pollen days as the rain helps clear pollen from the air; not hanging laundry outside because pollen can stick to sheets, towels and clothing; delegating lawn mowing and other gardening chores that can stir up allergens to others; paying attention to pollen forecasts and current pollen levels to reduce outdoor time when the levels are high; and keeping indoor air clean by using air conditioning in houses and cars; and finally, keeping indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.