Hurricanes, Allergies, and You

When June 1st rolls around, Florida is faced with the start of hurricane season. This brings a flurry of preparation: getting the generators, making sure you know your evacuation route, and making sure your trees are hurricane-ready.

But did you know that hurricanes can also affect your allergies?

Hurricanes affect your allergies and asthma in three main ways:

The Wind and the Damp

While rain washes pollen out of the air and can offer some mild relief, that is very temporary. The storm that brings lots of wind will also kick around outdoor allergens, bringing more pollen and additionally will send wet mold spores into the air. This will severely affect those with mold allergies. Also, the damp from the rains will increase the levels of fungi, boosting the mold count. This can cause asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness in people who have asthma or are mold-allergic. This can lead to chronic lung illness and lung infections.

Power Loss

When a storm has caused a power outage, one of the top issues is air conditioning units. Not only do these keep the house cool, but they keep humidity low. When they are running, they filter and dehumidify the air. This prevents mold from growing and cuts down on the number of dust mites. Remove the air conditioning and these allergens can thrive.

After Effects of a Hurricane

After the storm, the extra water causes more growth of grasses and weeds. This will cause allergies to worsen for many. Additionally, the unsafe weather can also put a pause on services such as mowing and general yard maintenance, which will leave grasses and weeds to continue growing and release allergens.

How to Prevent Hurricane-Related Allergy and Asthma Reactions

Asthma Instructions

Instructions for the management of your allergies and asthma are important to have in writing.

  • A list of all your medical diagnoses including your food and medication allergies
  • A list of your current daily and rescue medications including instructions on when and how to use
  • A copy of your insurance cards and healthcare provider contact information
  • The address and phone numbers of your closest hospital, your primary care physician, and your allergist – ask for the best phone number in the event of a power outage as landline phones may not work

Prepare to be Without Power or Evacuate

Prepare a go-bag filled with the necessities to help with asthma or allergy relief.

  • Enough daily and rescue medicine to last for two weeks
  • Your doctor’s contact information
  • A copy of your Allergy/Asthma instructions
  • A portable battery-powered nebulizer (if you use one)
  • A mask to wear for protection from mold and airborne allergens
  • Your insurance cards
  • A 2-pack of your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector

If prescribed, make sure you include:

  • A peak flow meter
  • A spacer for your inhaled medications
  • A nebulizer for asthma meds

If you are heading to a shelter, consider these:

  • If you are allergic to pets, make sure to choose a shelter in your county that does not allow animals
  • Food Allergy patients should bring food to last at least two days
  • Bring your nebulizer and medications, but be aware that most shelters have nebulizers available if required

Prepare for Storm Cleanup

When the hurricane ends, every item you need for cleanup is often sold out. Prepare yourself by purchasing and packing gloves and masks with your medicine. This helps afterward: if your home has been flooded or has water damage, there could be mold spores.