As Tropical Storm Isaac heads toward Louisiana on the verge of hurricane strength a lot can be at stake, including your health. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the drastic climate changes brought on by the storm can cause mild to life-threating allergy and asthma symptoms.
As heavy rain hits several areas of the south, ragweed pollens that are in bloom can be washed away. However, once the rain clears, pollen counts can soar. Cold and warm fronts, along with winds created by the storm, can also affect pollen and increase mold levels.
"Hurricanes and other severe storms can create drastic climate changes," said allergist Stanley Fineman, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "This erratic weather can influence the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms for the more than 40 million Americans that suffer from these conditions."
In previous years, allergists have seen an increase in patients presenting heightened allergy and asthma symptoms during severe storms. These climate changes may also mean more misery this fall allergy season. Moisture and humidity can cause pollen and mold to linger. An Indian Summer can also lead to extended allergen counts.
"Although symptoms may not always be severe, allergies and asthma are serious and, in some cases, deadly," said Dr. Fineman. "The conditions, however, can be effectively controlled with proper diagnosis and treatment by a board certified allergist."
ACAAI allergists recommend treating allergies and asthma before symptoms begin. Knowing the weather changes that affect your allergy and asthma symptoms can help you predict flare-ups. These climate changes include:
• Heavy rainfall -Pollen and mold counts increase, and attract West Nile carrying mosquitos
• Cool nights and warm days -- Tree, grass and ragweed pollens thrive in this environment
• Heat and humidity -- Mold spores can multiply
• Wind -- Pollen and mold can be stirred into the air, and when it's warm, pollen counts surge
• Calm days -- Absent winds cause allergens to be grounded, but they can be stirred into the air when mowing the lawn or raking leaves
In the event of flooding, ACAAI recommends removing the water as soon as possible and cleaning any visible mold before it spreads.
Materials provided by American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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