WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- So much for "out like a lamb" this March. Polar vortexes, blizzard bombs, Arctic leaking, weather whiplash. All of these terms have been used recently to explain colder-than-usual temperatures and lingering winter conditions nationwide, even though the vernal equinox – the first day of spring – has already arrived. But even in the throes of what feels like a 2014 Ice Age, millions of Americans have begun showing up in doctors' offices with the tell-tale signs of allergies: itchy and watery eyes, runny and congested noses, puffy and inflamed sinuses, violent sneezing fits, severe headaches, coughing and even difficulty breathing for some.
SAY HELLO TO "SPWINTER"
What do you call the unpredictable and abrupt blending of spring and winter? "Spwinter," of course, which seems to combine the worst of both seasons creating unwelcome conditions for allergy patients.
"Nearly 45 million Americans are living with nasal allergies and 25 million have asthma," says Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, Medical Director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and an Ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). "Allergy and asthma patients already have a chronic sensitivity to things like pollen, mold and other airborne allergens, but they can also be more susceptible to rapid changes in temperature, moisture, and air quality," says Bassett. "A blending of the winter and spring means these patients are at risk of multiple symptoms simultaneously. But with the proper planning and early treatment, patients can prepare and find relief," says Bassett.
ANNUAL ALLERGY RANKING IS A REMINDER
AAFA recently released its annual Spring Allergy Capitals report at www.AllergyCapitals.com, ranking the 100 most challenging cities to live in with allergies in the United States. "It's the 12th year for this report, and it's a reminder that, no matter where you live or what the outdoor conditions are, people need to take allergies seriously and have a treatment plan," says Mike Tringale, AAFA's Senior Vice President for External Affairs. This year's report named Louisville, KY, as the #1 Spring Allergy Capital (up from #5 last year) due to higher than average pollen counts, high use of allergy medications by local patients and too few allergy specialists in the metro area. Other findings in this year's report include:
- Louisville, KY, is #1 for the third time in 12 years (was #1 in 2003 and 2009).
- New top-10 cities this year include Dallas, TX, (#7 up from #23 last year), Richmond, VA, (#8 up from #22) and Birmingham, AL, (#9 up from #14).
- New top-20 cities this year include New York, NY, (#13 up from #43), Columbia, SC, (#14 up from #34) and San Antonio, TX, (#15 up from #24).
- Virginia Beach, VA, (#20) made the largest leap this year, up 46 places from #66 last year.
- Los Angeles, CA, (#77) fell the most this year, down 39 places from #38 last year.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Even though it feels like winter won't let go, recent research shows that, on average, spring now arrives up to 14 days earlier than it did just 20 years ago, bringing with it increased pollen counts. In fact, sunny signs of spring began appearing all over the U.S. as early as February, allowing many trees to bud. But winter conditions such as frost, freeze and snow have periodically resurged over the past several weeks causing record rain or snow and temperature changes of nearly 50 degrees in just one day. This fickle combination of spring and winter meteorological phenomena and extreme precipitation means an increased presence of mold in areas affected by all this moisture as well as intermittent tree pollination, all of which can trigger allergic reactions.
"No matter what time of the year it is, and no matter what Mother Nature sends our way, people with allergies need to be prepared and proactive to avoid allergy misery," says Dr. Bassett. "Now we have the ability to prevent symptoms before they even occur, but patients have to take the first step to visit their doctors and to get ahead of their disease."
About the Research
The Spring Allergy Capitals™ ranking is an annual research and educational project of AAFA, designed to help patients recognize, prevent and safely treat allergy symptoms. Through this ranking, AAFA raises awareness of allergies and provides helpful information designed to improve the quality of life for people with allergies. The ranking is based on local pollen levels, use of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication and number of Board Certified allergists in each metro area. Visit www.AllergyCapitals.com to see the full list, study methodology and to learn more about allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
Now in its 60th year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the leading national nonprofit consumer and patient organization dedicated to fighting asthma and allergic diseases. AAFA provides free information to the public, offers educational programs to consumers and health professionals, leads advocacy efforts to improve patient care, and funds research to find treatments and cures. www.aafa.org
SOURCE Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America