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Allergies Health Center

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Under Attack: Hidden Allergy Triggers

Mold, mites, and pet dander lurk where you'd never suspect.

Allergy Attack: Pet Dander but No Pets? continued...

When a thunderstorm rolls through, prepare for an allergy attack. Why? The winds stir up both mold spores and tiny particles released by pollen grains. It starts while the sun is still shining, says Weber. "It has to do with updrafts that often precede thunderstorms. They cause mold spore counts to go up astronomically, 100 times higher than normal."

As the storm passes through, winds also disrupt the grass pollen grains on the ground, causing them to release tiny particles -- particles that are 1,000 times smaller than the pollen grains, says Weber. "The particles don't show up on any pollen count. But a wave of cold air will sweep the stuff off the ground -- blow it just high enough to hit people in the face." Because the particles are so tiny, they are inhaled deeply into the lungs causing serious problems, he explains.

One thunderstorm can cause "a double-whammy before the storm rolls through, then afterward," Weber says. "Those fine particles can be very irritating."

Allergy Attack: Those Awful Roaches

Roaches do not discriminate. They thrive in the poorest and best of neighborhoods, Weber says. "Some parts of the country simply have more, like the Southeast where roaches are a fact of life," he tells WebMD. Restaurants and schools have roaches. The pests can even enter your home via your new couch -- an item that has been warehoused.

Roaches can be very difficult to eradicate, says Weber. Roach traps and baits, as well as insect sprays, can help. But spraying should occur only when no one is at home. Before you or your child returns home after spraying, make sure that your home has been aired out for a couple of hours.

Also, it's important to clean up the area where roaches have been found. They thrive in humid and water environments, so fixing leaks helps eliminate them. Dead roaches and their feces are often the cause of allergies -- not the roaches themselves. The American Academy of Asthma and Immunology suggests sealing foods in tight-lidded containers, vacuuming and sweeping after meals, and taking out the garbage frequently to avoid roaches.

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Reviewed on December 29, 2008

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