Warmer weather is returning to Iowa — and so is the pollen. An allergy expert says this spring is shaping up to be one of the worst allergy seasons in years, but Iowans who are constantly sneezing likely already know that. Ted Myatt, an environmental health specialist, says allergy sufferers have more to worry about than just the great outdoors as there can be no where to hide, inside or out.
“There’s allergens that are generated outside, the pollen from grass and trees and mold spores from outdoors, all of those particles end up in your home because you’re constantly moving outdoor air into your home,” Myatt says.
On top of that, there are allergens generated indoors as well, like pet dander from dogs and cats. Those things, in combination with coming off of last year’s drought, are making for foul conditions for Iowans with allergies. After you’ve been outside, Myatt says it may be helpful to shower right away or to change your clothes — and to use bedding that’s hypoallergenic.
“Washing those sheets in hot water is a great strategy to prevent dust mite exposure,” Myatt says. “Dust mites love bedding and are hard to get rid of unless you use really hot water. Another thing I like to recommend is to take off your shoes. You track in a lot of dirt, a lot of pollen, a lot of mold.”
Mold can be a huge problem. Even an isolated area of mold, like a window sill, can trigger symptoms in those allergic to it. He says mold spores travel by air and they will spread. Dust and pollen gather on TV screens and other electronics so keeping them clean is very important.
Myatt says even for Iowans who were never bugged by allergies before, this spring could be different. “People as they age acquire new allergy symptoms,” Myatt says. “If you move to another area of the country where the mixture of the types of pollens and allergens in the air are different than what you’re used to, you see people acquire new allergies.”
Even opening the windows to let in a fresh spring breeze will also be letting in dust, mold spores and pollen.