Santa Ana winds kick up allergens in California
Residents of Southern California dread the annual arrival of the Santa Ana winds, which stir wildfires across the Los Angeles area. Less commonly known is just how much of an annoyance the winds can be to individuals with allergies.
Every late fall and early winter, strong winds – some topping out at 90 mph – produce the highest temperatures of the year in the region, as they blow from inland desert regions, across California and out to the Pacific Ocean. This month alone, the winds have knocked down trees and power lines, leaving many residents without power. In addition to those annoyances, these dry winds kick up dust and mold along the way, populating the air with these irritants.
"Once that wind blows we have several days afterwards that we're dealing with people that suffer from allergies having persistent symptoms, because it does bring up a lot of mold, it brings up pollen and it brings up a lot of dust that irritates people's symptoms," Dr. Joseph Shapiro told KABC, Los Angeles' ABC affiliate.
In some instances, the Santa Ana winds even carry a particular spore that causes Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as valley fever. These symptoms are similar to those caused by influenza. A more common health concern, however, is typical allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion and sneezing. The winds can also dry out the eyes and skin of those who need to venture outside.
The best remedy for allergy sufferers in Southern California may be to seek refuge in their homes, making sure that windows and doors are securely closed. Any irritants that are are able to enter the home can be removed by HEPA air purifiers specifically designed to eliminate those allergens. Allergy sufferers can treat their symptoms with nasal irrigation systems and allergy medications, while dry eyes can be remedied by eye drops.