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May 15, 2014

Lori Brothers: Dodging elements, peak allergy season only will make things worse

NEW CASTLE — I’ve discovered why my allergies have amped up so much over the past two seasons.

Yes, we have had bad winters that have caused the trees and plants to produce more pollen. However, I also have uncovered a personal trend that may have made the problem of seasonal allergies even worse.

I avoided going outside during the peak of allergy season.

I held off cleaning out my flower beds, ignoring much-needed weeding. I didn’t take as many walks in the morning or at dusk (those are the times that pollen is at its worst). The actions I took to protect myself may be the patterns that have developed my “weather sensitivity.”

Weather sensitivity takes many forms and is stimulated by changing weather, seasonal allergies just being one of them. By avoiding going outside during peak times of irritation, I’ve heightened my sensitivities. My body is no longer trained to cope with “weather stress.”

To compound the problem, the modern conveniences of air conditioners, humidifiers and heaters blunt the “weather shocks” that can happen as seasons and conditions change.

By hiding indoors, I’ve created a toxic bubble that intensifies the blow. Yes, more tissues also apply here.

The EPA recognizes that weather and climate play a significant role in people's health. Changes in climate affect the average weather and conditions that we’ve come to expect.

The best advice is to “harden” your senses by exposing them to the elements. Spend more time outdoors, in all kinds of weather, according to, which notes that,” European medical professionals go even further and recommend stronger stimulants, such as saunas or alternating hot and cold showers.”

That’s going too far for me. My plan is to return to small intervals of being outside during the peak times that irritate me. I’ll begin with five-minute of sitting on my deck, for example. Careful planning and paying attention to how you are being affected is still a wise idea, depending on how your health issues are triggered by the weather. listed more of the “weather sensitivity” symptoms that are prevailing and growing around the world. They include:

•Blood pressure. When atmospheric pressure decreases, your blood pressure drops. Low temps cause your blood vessels to narrow, meaning on the whole, blood pressure is lower in the summer.

•Suicide. Self-harm has a season. Suicides spike in the late spring and early summer while overall, sour moods are more likely on cold, cloudy days.

•Asthma and allergies. Changing seasons and hot weather can exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms, with the growing season and air pollution paying a serious role. The fix? Be prepared with your allergy meds before spring weather arrives.

•Joint pain. Sudden changes in barometric pressure, such as the switch that occurs right before a storm, can trigger joint pain. Cold weather can also cause painful changes in joint fluid thickness, some research has found.

•Headache and the seasons. As the days get longer, the additional exposure to bright light often triggers migraines. Pollen can also trigger headache for people with allergies.

•COPD and other lung diseases. Hot, humid weather can make breathing difficult, particularly for people with preexisting lung conditions. Air pollution, which is worse when it’s hot, also plays a role.

Venture out in small intervals. Pay attention to the weather warnings for pollen and the heat/cold index. Maybe we can retrain ourselves to cope with weather stress.

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