After nearly a ten-year drought across California, an influx of heavy rains from December 2016 through March 2017 produced some of the most verdant flowers and lush greenery that Southern California had seen in decades. However, this beautiful bloom produced ugly effects on the health of individuals, specifically those with allergies and asthma.
For many individuals, it was the first time they had ever experienced the irritating, and sometimes severe, allergy symptoms that others have been plagued with since childhood. This is owed to different flowers, trees, grasses and vegetation that widely bloomed across the state. For the first time, some individuals had been exposed to pollens that were causing the sneezing, congestion, coughing, and watery eyes that they may not have experienced before. Additionally, the powerful rain storms contributed to breaking down pollen spores to smaller particles that could easily nest in your lungs, resulting in the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath many of our asthma patients experienced from January-April or made allergy-induced asthma symptoms worse.
At AIRE, we saw a rise in these new allergy patients and in returning patients who had seen an improvement in their allergies and asthma until recently. Unfortunately, the effects of these April showers did not end with the May flowers. From June to July Southern California saw an expected rise in wildfires as the blooming vegetation dried out and temperatures soared. In Burbank, the fast-moving La Tuna fire destroyed 5,000 acres resulting in evacuations, freeway closures, and hundreds of patients suffering from worse allergy and asthma symptoms. We saw another rise in patients returning after experiencing a brief period of relief in between the rain storms and fire season. Though a majority of fires that were active have been extinguished, with the continued heat wave we are not completely out of the clear from fire season yet. During any future active fires, we advise that our asthma and COPD patients avoid going outside and keep their rescue inhalers on hand.
As we approach Winter, forecasts predict an increase in rainstorms as well as the beginning of flu season. Asthma causes inflammation in airways and lungs which the flu can provoke, resulting in potential asthma attacks. We advise all our patients to stay vigilant and prepared for flue seasons & weather changes by doing the following:
- Schedule an appointment with your allergist before your symptoms get worse and you are readily prepared to tackle the seasonal changes
- Get your flu shot! Taking preventative measures to stop the flu will help make sure your asthma does not get worse throughout the winter season
- Avoid going outside immediately after rainfall since post-rainfall humidity results in higher pollen levels
- Retrieve medication refills before busy holiday schedules
- Follow your doctor’s asthma action plan
- Make sure you have your rescue inhaler with you at all times
If you have any further questions, flu-like symptoms, worse symptoms, or are looking for better ways to prepare for the seasonal changes, be sure to schedule an appointment with your allergist! In order to enforce the most effective preventative measures, make sure you are following-up with your allergist every 3-6 months to monitor your health. At AIRE Medical Group is always accepting new patients!
We look forward to helping you through rainy, smoky and busy seasons to come.
-AIRE Medical Group