post-title Early Spring Allergies 2014-02-26 13:27:14 yes no Posted by

Early Spring Allergies

By: Dr. Jennifer Bullock With Winter (hopefully!) winding down in the next few weeks, we will be facing the transition into early Spring, which can be a difficult time for some allergy sufferers. Many people with allergies experience a worsening of symptoms in the early Spring, before the pollen season begins. This is often due […]

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By: Dr. Jennifer Bullock

With Winter (hopefully!) winding down in the next few weeks, we will be facing the transition into early Spring, which can be a difficult time for some allergy sufferers. Many people with allergies experience a worsening of symptoms in the early Spring, before the pollen season begins. This is often due to mold allergy. Mold allergens may be a problem for allergy sufferers almost all year around, as there are somemolds that release their spores in dry, windy conditions, and others that release their spores in humid, wet, or rainy conditions. Freezing cold temperatures of Winter typically suppress molds altogether, but the melting of snow, and the mild, wet and rainy conditions of early Spring promote growth of molds and release of large numbers of mold spores into the air. In some Winters, we experience several days of warmer weather and melting of snow, and these conditions may also support release of mold spores into the air. Changes in barometric pressure that occur around the time of rain in early Spring and Fall stimulate some molds to release their spores into the atmosphere.

JeniBullockMany people who have symptoms that also occur outside of the pollen seasons have a component of mold allergy, and symptoms from mold allergy may vary drastically with the weather, and unfortunately, are often unpredictable. Many molds grow on grasses and grains, and they therefore pose a problem for allergy sufferers in most of the US, especially in the Midwest. Molds fulfill the ecologic role of decompositionand recycling, and are therefore also abundant in the Fall, when leaves fall to the ground.

Mold spores range in size from 2 micrometers to 200 micrometers in size. The small mold spores are some of the smallest allergens known. Mold spores may also split into fragments that are very small, but are still recognized by the immune system as an allergen. Larger mold spores will be trapped in the upper airway and nose, causing primarily symptoms in the nose or eyes, whereas smaller spores may be inhaled into the sinuses or lower airways and cause a cough or asthma. Mold spore allergy is also commonly associated with sinus infections or chronic sinus problems. It is important to note that many people with mold allergy may not experience itchy nose, itchy eyes, or sneezing, rather they may have congestion, chronic cough, sinus infections, “bronchitis”, or asthma. Certain mold spores, especially those of smaller sizes, have been associated with onset of sudden and very severe asthma symptoms.

Many people ask whether or not mold found inside the home can cause allergies. Because household tap water is usually chlorinated, molds that grow in areas of the home damaged from plumbing leaks are not major allergens, and these molds do not grow abundantly. Some molds that grow in areas of water damage from outdoor sources, such as ground water, are allergenic molds. In order for such molds to continue to survive and produce large enough numbers of spores to cause allergies, darkness and recurrent water leakage or dampness are usually necessary. Therefore, a mold problem in the home that is extensive enough to cause allergy symptoms usually becomes obvious and is relatively easy to detect. Most molds that cause allergies, however, are found outdoors and are unfortunately unavoidable.

Mold allergy can be diagnosed with skin testing, and similar to treatment of other allergies, treatment of mold allergy may include antihistamines, nose sprays, inhalers or allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots).

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