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Record Breaking Rainfall May Bring Strongest Allergy Season


The windy and wet winter has given way to unseasonable high mold spores across California. According to Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center pediatric pulmonologist, Dr. Leila Yoonessi, “Mold growth and pollen counts increase with rainfall and high humidity, which can in turn negatively impact allergic rhinitis and asthma control.”

Multiple counties are reporting high tree pollen counts weeks earlier than normal sending allergy patients to their doctors with early exacerbation of their allergic symptoms.  

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Asthma and allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy, and atopic dermatitis (eczema), are common for all age groups in the United States. In the U.S., approximately 25 million people have asthma, of which almost 7 million are children.  There is a higher incidence of asthma exacerbation, emergency room visits and admissions to the hospital during peak pollen season.There is also a disproportionate increase in hospitalizations and asthma deaths for African Americans with asthma compared to Caucasians. Dr. Yoonessi recommends having rescue and maintenance asthma and allergy medication nearby.

Los Angeles, Orange County and Ventura County saw record levels of rain that will increase the mold allergy count that normally is not clinically significant in a drought year for patients with outdoor mold allergies.The biggest challenge this year will be treating patients that are normally not affected. Patients with mold allergy and dust mite allergy will have an increase in symptoms.  People who have roof leaks or home flooding will experience symptoms related to both indoor and outdoor mold exposure. Dr. Yoonessi suggests running a HEPA filter in your home to filter and collect particulate matter.

The top allergens released in the spring are tree and grass pollens. Allergy symptoms can affect the nose, chest, skin and eyes ranging from mild symptoms, such as congestion, coughing, skin rash and itchy water eyes to more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and rashes/hives all over the body. “You can even take an extra dose of your antihistamine and increase nasal sprays per your doctor’s instructions and guidance. Saline nasal rinses can also be used as an adjunctive therapy to loosen and remove mucus,” stated Dr. Yoonessi. By educating the public about asthma and allergy triggers it is hoped that people will be more aware and seek help from their medical providers to avoid more serious complications.

About Dignity Health - St. Mary Medical Center

Founded as a faith-based hospital in 1923 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center is a 389-bed, acute care, nonprofit hospital located in Long Beach, California. The hospital offers a full complement of services, including a Level II trauma center, cardiac and vascular center, surgical weight loss, maternity, and the CARE Center, which is a recognized PrEP center of excellence. The hospital shares a legacy of humankindness with Dignity Health, one of the nation’s five largest health care systems.     

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