The extreme swings in San Diego’s weather this winter—ranging from 80 degrees one day to record-breaking rainfall counts the next—may make this one of the worst allergy seasons we’ve seen.
"With extreme temperatures, there is a high pollen levels, which worsen respiratory allergies,” said Dr. Brian Weeks, an ENT at Alvarado Hospital. "I expect to see more people with allergy issues and associated painful symptoms around their nose and eyes.”
The sudden temperature changes that have occurred in recent months will trigger an allergy season much longer and more aggressive this spring. The months of April, May and June are the worst time for allergy sufferers—but this year, some are already beginning to feel symptoms this month. What created this perfect allergy storm is that San Diego experienced record-breaking amounts of rain, which means that trees got plenty of water. This was interspersed with unseasonable heat, which brought hot, dry summer-like conditions, which keeps pollen blowing in the wind.
Allergies keep thousands of children away from their classrooms and many adults from work. While effective treatments abound, allergies and their complications are often neglected, leaving sufferers miserable for months. Although most allergies are not life threatening, they may dramatically affect a person's performance and quality of life. The chronic symptoms—sneezing, sinus headaches and runny nose—associated with nasal allergies can wear a person down and interfere with work and other activities.
"An allergy is an overreaction to ordinarily harmless substances called allergens," Dr. Weeks said. "Common allergens include pollens, molds, house dust mites, and animal dander. In trying to rid the body of the allergens, the body's immune system releases the chemical histamine, which causes the trademark symptoms—sneezing, runny or stuffed nose, and itchy, watery eyes.”
For those who are struck with allergies, here a few simple ways to alleviate seasonal allergies:
- Spend as little time as possible outdoors, especially on windy days
- Keep the doors and windows in your house shut as much as possible, especially in the bedroom
- At home and in the car, use an air conditioner, which filters out dust and pollen
- Avoid yard work that stirs up pollen. If you must rake leaves or cut the grass, cover your nose and mouth
- Minimize outdoor activities in the early morning (before 10 a.m.), when pollen counts are usually highest
- If you exercise outdoors, do it in the evening, when pollen counts are lowest
- If you suffer frequently from allergies, you should talk to your doctor