Get your tissues ready! Allergists predicting intense allergy season

Blowing Her Nose - sneezing - allergies
Posted at 7:07 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 08:55:26-05

Allergists say Hampton Roads may see its worst allergy season in years.

This winter, the area has seen both heavy snowfall and spikes in high temperatures, creating the perfect storm for mold to grow.

"What may be different about this winter is the fact that it's been warmer than normal, and anecdotally, it seems we have more moisture," explained Dr. James Blando, and allergist and professor at Old Dominion University.

This, Dr. Blando said, often creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow.

"We had snow, then we had these periods where we suddenly had a very warm day," explained Dr. James Bland, an allergist and professor at Old Dominion University. "If we have snow, it's all this frozen moisture on the ground, but then it warms up and all of that melts and results in a lot of moisture on the ground. And because it's a little warmer you get evaporation and you end up with moisture in the air. All of that moisture can really enhance the growth of molds."

With more mold, comes more mold spores, which mold species release into the air to reproduce.

According to allergists, those spores would normally die throughout the winter.

But Dr. Blando suggests that may not be the case this year.

"Normally, the mold sort of will decrease throughout the winter," he explained. "But because it has been warmer and wetter this year, [mold growth] may have continued throughout the entire winter season."

In addition to mold, increased moisture will likely cause other plants that give off pollen to grow more rapidly.

A clinician with Patient First Urgent Care says you can likely treat allergy symptoms at home.

Dr. Maulin Desai, the Regional Medical Director for Patient First Hampton Roads and Richmond, suggests over-the-counter medicine and nasal spray or saltwater rinse.

But he says you should visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist if allergy symptoms start affecting your daily life or sleep schedule.

"They may be affecting even sleep at nighttime because the swelling in the nasal passages causes snoring and you're not getting proper sleep," Dr. Desai explained. "Then that would be a good reason to think 'hey let me get to an ear nose and throat physician.'"

Allergy season may also last longer going forward.

Dr. Blando says climate change is causing rising sea levels and warmer temperatures, which causes an increase of allergen species.

"Studies show allergy seasons are lasting longer than they have in the past, but it's all going to depend on specific particulars of the weather," he explained.

Experts worry this may cause further strain on the U.S. healthcare system.