While snowflakes are flying in parts of the state this afternoon, the relatively warm winter has brought some Iowans an early onslaught of allergy attacks. Dr. Miles Weinberger, a professor of pediatric allergies at the University of Iowa, says plenty of people are already being pestered by sneezing fits, the sniffles and red, puffy eyes.
“The major effect of the warmer weather is potentially increasing people’s exposure to the ground molds,” Dr. Weinberger says. “These are molds that grow in decaying vegetation and they’re not a problem when there’s hard freezes but we’ve had days now where there hasn’t been a hard freeze.”
Those molds are the major cause of seasonal allergic asthma, but he says they don’t usually start having an impact until spring. Weinberger says, “While some people may be bothered right now, it’s not nearly what we see during the peak of the outdoor mold season when the farmers are stirring up the ground molds all over the Midwest.”
Allergy sufferers should get a bit of a break with this latest snowfall, but he says the genuine allergy season isn’t far away. “The first pollens to come out are the tree pollens,” Weinberger says. “They cause a lot of nasal symptoms and eye symptoms in this part of the country. They don’t cause much asthma, but they do cause some miserable hay fever-type symptoms.”
Those tree pollens usually start to cause allergy problems in late March or early April. On the plus side, Weinberger says virtually all of these conditions are easily treatable.