The ill effects of the hot, muggy summer will last long after the temperatures have started to cool, allergy experts warn.
“What we are seeing with this warmer weather pattern is that we are headed for a bumper crop of molds,” says Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergist, assistant clinical professor at New York University and author of “The New Allergy Solution: Supercharge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering.”
These are the conditions in which “mold patients struggle,” says Dr. Janna Tuck, a spokeswoman for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Making matters worse, Bassett says, the fall allergy season is likely to last longer because the warmer, wetter weather is predicted to continue. Mold spores could still be swirling around in the air as late as October and November.
Experts believe as much as 10 percent of the population is sensitive to molds, Bassett says.
This year, the effects may be felt even by those who aren’t allergic to molds, Tuck says. “No matter who you are, where there is so much mold in the air, you’re going to have a reaction to it,” she says.
How to deal:
Tuck and Bassett offered some tips for surviving the mold torrent.
• Allergy sufferers should start taking their medications before symptoms get started, both experts urged. “It’s an inflammatory process and once it starts, it’s hard to catch up,” Tuck says.
• Try to keep your home as mold-free as possible: You'll have a “safe place,” to go when mold levels are particularly high, says Tuck.
• Don’t leave your windows and doors open. “You may want to let some fresh air in, but you’ll also be letting in a huge amount of mold spores,” Tuck says.
• Dust and vacuum regularly and change the filters on your furnace: That will remove any mold spores you bring into the house from the outside.
• If you’ve been outside on a high mold day, wash your hair before going to bed. “Otherwise, it will transfer from your head right to the bed sheets,” Bassett says.
• Consider irrigating your eyes in the evening: That will wash away any allergens that have lodged in them.
• Make sure you take your medication before going outside.
• Since molds love moisture, keep track of the humidity in your home: if it goes above 50 percent, work to get it down, Bassett says. Air conditioners can help banish the moisture when it’s hot out and turning up the heat on cool days can do the same.