Drought affects Triangle allergy season

May 12, 2008 5:45:04 PM PDT
This time of year, the sounds of spring fill the air and sneezes and sniffles are among them.

"This morning, I was kind of cruddy," said allergy sufferer Travis Garner. "Stuffy and sneezy. All the things you would normally think of that you would be with allergies."

Garner is visiting the Triangle from Nashville. Since arriving, he's noticed his allergies have gotten worse. Duke asthma and allergy expert Dr. John Sundy of the Asthma, Allergy and Airway Center says, Garner isn't imagining things.

"I think there are some things that might be unique about our particular environment here," said Sundy. "That is, we tend to have a year round pollen season. So, pollen levels begin to increase around February, and they may last well into November."

Sundy says the year round pollen isn't the only reason allergies can be worse in this region, the climate also plays a role.

"We have a moist environment," said Sundy. It's a very attractive place for dust mites and mold to grow and these will be present year round in the environment."

The dry environment in the past year with the worst drought on record in North Carolina is also a factor.

"Dry weather from a drought can actually cause a lot of dust," said Sundy. "So, wind can blow other allergens that are on the ground around. It can blow mold particles around, so some people may find that they actually get more symptoms during dry spells than they would otherwise."

Rain helps temporarily lower the pollen count, but, Sundy says over the counter medicines are the best bet. If symptoms last more than 2 weeks, Sundy says it's time to see a specialist because allergies can be a key component of asthma.


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