Now is a winter of discontent for allergy sufferers

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Not everyone is enjoying the warm weather we’ve been having. It’s posing problems for some allergy sufferers.

Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist who tracks the pollen count in New Jersey, said he’s seeing an increasing number of patients complaining of sneezing and congestion because mold spores from decomposing leaves are three times more plentiful than usual.

“If we’re having leaves on the ground, and it’s moist and wet and warm, they’re just chewing up and reproducing at that level,” he said. “Whereas, if we have a killing frost for three to five days, it really neutralizes that, knocks them out and puts them in a dormant state. But we haven’t had that.”

Consistent cold is needed to end the mold spore problem, Bielory said.

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“Even after four days of freezing, if it comes back with 60-degree weather patterns, it that persists, we will have a quite horrendous mold spore problem that will continue through the month of January,” he said. “To add to that the spring pollinating season will start earlier, perhaps early in February.”

With holiday travels, it’s difficult to stay indoors to avoid the allergic reactions, but Bielory said medications can provide some relief.

“Oral antihistamines give you a systemic treatment. It dries up the nose and eyes, if that’s your primary symptom of runny nose and watery eyes,” he said. “But if you have itching and congestion, antihistamines don’t work for that as well. Nasal steroids are still pretty much the gold standard.”

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