Mild Winter Could Mean More Mold Allergies

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - Do you have a cold you just can't seem to shake? Or itchy, watery eyes that usually only bother you during the spring?

Doctors' offices across the southeast report being flooded with patients suffering from an uncommon ailment this time of year, allergies.

You see, mold spores are prevalent here in East Tennessee and cold weather in January and February is the best chance we have to kill them off.

But, not so, this year.

As our Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard explains, you may not have a cold at all, and why you're experiencing these symptoms now.

We're not exactly having a heat wave, but temperatures are well above normal this time of year and while that may help you with your heating bill, it's not doing your allergies any favors.

"We've seen more mold allergies over this winter than previous winters, because the ground's been wet, and the mold spores have been easily aerosolized," explains Doctor Ty Prince from the Allergy and Sinus Center.

Mold spores that grow outdoors would normally die off during a cold snap or be covered with snow.

But in warm weather, like this, mold spores continue to grow and spread.

And Doctor Ty Prince says it's causing a new segment of people to question whether they may suffer from allergies.

"I've seen two patients this morning coming in with those complaints, and typically your colds are going to last four to seven days, and most people aren't going to catch more than a couple a year," says Dr. Prince.

Here's how to tell the difference, people with colds have stuffy noses, with changes in the color of their mucus, loss of appetite, fatigue, and low-grade headaches or fevers.

While allergy sufferers have itchy eyes, noses and throats and possibly runny or stuffy noses.

"Most of the time, your allergic symptoms are going to be more itchy, watery, sneezy-type symptoms. You might get some fatigue with those symptoms, but not a lot of body aches," says Dr. Prince.

And if you're trying decide whether your symptoms should keep you home from work, remember, a cold is contagious, allergies are not.

If you do suffer from allergies, one of the worst things you can do is open the windows to let in some fresh air.

Then, you're just inviting mold spores into your home.

Some doctors say this warm spell could bring an early allergy season, since trees might begin to bud early. While others say, the temperatures won't make much of a difference.


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