Wet Weather Creates Perfect Allergy Storm

It’s a bad month for ragweed, dust mites and mold

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md., on why we could be facing the worst autumn allergy season in a while and how to cope with it. (Published Monday, Sep 26, 2011)

    We’ve gotten so much rain in the past few weeks, it seems we may never dry out. All the rain, together with a scorching summer, have created the perfect storm for allergy sufferers.

    Doctors say this may be the worst fall allergy season we’ve had in a while.

    “Washington has basically become a petri dish after all of this rain, and the mold is multiplying like crazy, ” said Dr. Jackie Eghrari Sabet of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md.

    Mold loves moisture, and the counts have been consistently high during the month of September.

    But mold isn’t the only moisture-lover. Dust mites are also thriving in our humid atmosphere, and both are peaking to higher-than-normal levels.

    “Dust mites are acting like Justin Bieber, they’re very romantic and they’re out there multiplying,” said Dr. Jackie. All year round of course -- in bed and wherever skin cells are.

    Ragweed is the big culprit. It loves the combination of high temperatures, greenhouse gases and rain. That makes for a miserable mix.

    So what’s a sneezy, wheezy Washington-area resident to do? Doctors recommend getting tested. Either visit a board-certified allergist to get a skin test or visit your primary care physician to get a newer blood test called an immunocap.

    “It’s a great screening tool,” said Dr. Jackie, “but you’ll still need to see an allergist to get the test properly interpreted.”

    Short of seeing a doctor, there are some simple steps that you can take to ease your symptoms and reduce your reactions to these fall offenders.

    Buy dust mite covers for your mattress and pillows and power wash all that outdoor mold (with bleach). If you are simply sick of facing an itchy fall year after year, Dr. Jackie says consider allergy shots to vaccinate yourself against what irritates you.

    If you do wind up on a doctor-prescribed treatment, be sure to get monitored to make sure it’s working, especially if you have allergic asthma. There’s a new lung function test called “exhaled nitric oxide” which was approved just a few weeks ago by the American Thoracic Society. However you have to ask your doctor for this specific test.