Allergies Bad? Blame the Weather

Wild weather changes lead to early symptoms for some

By Pat Lawson Muse
|  Wednesday, Jun 15, 2011  |  Updated 12:01 PM EDT
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Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of <a href=Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md., talks about how the weather is impacting people's allergies more this year." />

Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md., talks about how the weather is impacting people's allergies more this year.

So you think your allergies or asthma are really bad this year? You’re probably right, and the reason may be the weather.

It’s been an especially rough allergy season for a lot of folks who are experiencing symptoms that may seem a bit unusual for this time of year.

“Normally we get through the allergy season, then maybe through the flooding season, then into the extreme heat. All of that’s been condensed into just a couple of weeks in a row,” said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md.

“All this climate change has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere," she added. "That means lots of food for plants to extend the growing season, which means higher pollen counts."

In addition to a runny nose and watery eyes, you may suffer from an itchy mouth, migraines, rashes, hives, asthma, breathing difficulties, and fatigue.

Here are some other weather changes and possible symptoms they can produce:

Quick Temperature Changes

This can really mess up your head and your lungs.

“It’s the equivalent of essentially opening the refrigerator and sticking your head in there, Eghrari-Sabet said. "You’ll get a non-allergic rhinitis, meaning your allergy meds won’t work. You’ll get a stuffy nose, or you can have a problem where your lungs constrict and cause a hacking, dry, constricting cough.”

Thunderstorms

Summer’s barely begun, but already we’re getting these. They increase asthma attacks, migraines and sleep apnea.

When it comes to asthma, the thought is there’s an increase in pollen and mold spores. As the barometric pressures goes down, it’s difficult to keep airways open.

As for migraines, as the pressure in outside air changes, the pressure inside your sinuses increases and it will cause pain.

Extreme Heat

This affects pulmonary and cardiac function. There are little particles that become airborne in the heat and literally clog your heart valves and arteries and lungs, increasing the risk of obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer deaths and asthma attacks.

People who are obese are at greatest risk because they have a lower lung-to-body mass index ratio.

Humidity

Dust mites and mold increase in humid weather.

Air Pollution

This comes in many forms. Ozone, for one, is a chemical that increases respiratory problems and lung damage. CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide are hazardous, even if your exposure is short-term.

Research shows spikes in the number of cardiac deaths, ER visits and hospital admissions in the hours and days that follow spikes in the levels of these chemicals in the air. Pollutants may also slightly increase the risk of low birth weight and pre-term babies.

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