Extreme Weather Effects on Allergies

Thunderstorms have been linked to worsened allergy and asthma symptoms. Rain can force pollen grains to rupture and split, dispersing even more pollen into the atmosphere. Then high winds spread it around. The very strong winds from a hurricane or a tornado will likely blow pollen out of trees, grasses or weeds, and if severe enough, may even destroy the pollen-producing structures of these plants. The clean sweep doesn’t last long though. Such destruction can cause pollen counts to dip, but probably for only a few days. New pollen will pop up quickly. While local pollen counts may dip temporarily, pollen can still also blow in from miles away. Hurricanes have a more significant effect on pollen counts, since they tend to touch many miles of coastline, while tornadoes may touch down in a limited area.

Rain washes pollen out of the air. That’s why spring showers may offer some relief from allergy symptoms. But pollen isn’t the only problem. Any storm system that brings large amounts of moisture will increase not only the levels of fungi but also the release of allergenic spores into the environment. This may increase symptoms of hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Those symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy, watery eyes in people sensitive to mold. It can also cause asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness in people with asthma who are mold-allergic.

Depending which way the air is blowing, storms may clear the air or bring pollen to your area. Checking local pollen and allergen counts can help you manage them better.

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