INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Mild winter temperatures in Central Indiana this year may be welcome to some, but they haven't been good news for everyone. Those who suffer from allergies are finding the usual dose of relief hard to come by this winter.
Normally, winter helps reduce the factors that help cause nasal allergies, as the ground is covered in snow and temperatures plummet. But experts say warmer temperatures and increased moisture from rain have created perfect conditions for mold.
That's kept local allergists like Dr. Doug Horton unusually busy this winter
"Usually in the winter, particularly when you have snow cover outside, it knocks out the mold. There's very little mold in the air if it's below freezing and you have snow cover and the snow doesn't melt. But, this year, it's been different. We've had periods of cold. But, when it warms up the mold comes back. So, we've been somewhat busier this winter than we have in the past," Horton told 24-Hour News 8.
Mold thrives in dead vegetation like decaying leaves on the ground, and isn't easily killed unless the temperature is extremely cold. Because of snow pack, mold spores usually go dormant during the winter. Without that snow this year, they've continued to grow. If you breathe them in, they can trigger traditional allergy symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
"Usually it's worst in the spring, when we start getting more rain, and in the fall when the leaves and wheats die. Some people look for relief this time of year. But, they haven't gotten it because it hasn't been cold and stayed cold," Horton said.
If you're suffering from winter allergies this year, doctors suggest limiting your outdoor exposure on damp and foggy days, and buying a de-humidifier for your home. Experts suggest keeping indoor humidity levels between 40 percent and 50 percent.
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