Why allergies could be bad for years after Harvey

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

Allergies are about to get a whole lot worse as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Baylor College of Medicine predicts allergies could pose a threat for years to come.

"It affects not only the allergy season but all those homes that are affected by mold. It takes a long time to remediate those, so those effects will last long-term, even years to decades," allergy and immunology clinical director Dr. Sana Hasan said.

If you are an allergy sufferer, it’s going to get worse, especially if your home was flooded.

"Houston's already kind of a humid environment, so anything that adds to that will help that mold to grow. So any houses that have been affected with their Sheetrock, with their carpeting, those are all breeding grounds for mold," Hasan said. "Additionally, there's a lot of waste products. People have put out their wet furniture and they're Sheetrock and kind of with the trash pickup being delayed a lot of that is a breeding ground for mold."

Sinuses and allergies have been a common complaint in clinics since the floodwaters created mold, pollen and toxic waste that is still sitting in neighborhoods. It is the culprit of irritated lungs, skin and sinuses. However, even after debris is moved to landfills, it’s not going to get better. Hasan said the air is still filled with allergens from the waste and the saturated ground is sprouting new weeds.

"Different plants that we normally don't have growing in addition to more weeds growing in our area," Hasan said. "So people who are allergic to weed are going to have a lot more symptoms as well."

Even if you’ve never had allergies, you might now.

Know the symptoms: 

If you experience itchy eyes, nose, throat, coughing and/or sneezing, you might have allergies. You should talk to your doctor about treatment.

Hasan said over-the-counter allergy medicines should work. If they do not, allergy shots or prescription nose spray might be necessary.

For additional information about debris separation, debris removal and residential damage assessments, call the Harris County Residential Debris and Damage Assessment Hotline at 713-274-3880 or 281-463-6300 or email HomeFlooding@hcpid.org.

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