Everything’s Bigger In Texas – Including Allergies

North Texas is an amazing place to live – unless you have allergies. Allergies can really confine your spring activities to the house. Many allergy sufferers think that their allergies are worse in Texas. But, are they really? The Dallas Morning News’s Curious Texas investigated and published their results.

Why are allergies in Dallas-Fort Worth so bad? Curious Texas investigates

As summer approaches in D-FW, the time for sun, swimsuits and insufferable allergies has come. Runny noses and watery eyes will soon plague Texans, and while some complain, others are curious about the cause.

Nat Dreyer, 67, of Allen, asked Curious Texas: “Is there a vortex or funnel cloud, directly over Dallas concentrating the air currents that control the pollen count?”

The question was an early submission to Curious Texas, an ongoing project from The Dallas Morning News that invites you to join in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists are trained to track down answers.

This story is part of Curious Texas, a special project from The Dallas Morning News. You ask questions, our journalists find answers.

Dreyer’s wife, Pam, has long suffered from severe environmental allergies. She took allergy shots before the two married in 1975 and struggled with allergies while they lived in California.

The couple moved to Texas in 1981 and installed a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter and a washable air filter in their house. Pam also takes Zyrtec every day, to little effect, and checks the pollen count daily.

Pam’s condition and Nat’s love for her led him to research pollen allergies and how to best ease her struggles.

While there is no vortex or funnel cloud as Nat described, winds can carry pollen across Texas.

“Our wind patterns, they are kind of multidirectional, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it a vortex, other than when there’s an actual tornado, but they do kind of swirl,” Dr. Eric Kavosh, an allergist-immunologist in Plano, said. “They really do go in a looping pattern.”

Patricia Sanchez, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said winds blowing from the south, southeast and southwest bring in pollen from central Texas.

These winds may pick up tree pollen, which is just one of the causes of allergies. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, mold, animal dander, dust, food, latex, insect stings, medications and drugs also lead to runny noses and watery eyes for countless people.

Kavosh said pollen produced by grass and hickory, red and white oak, juniper and pecan trees are particularly pesky in the summertime. However, the level of a particular tree pollen is  difficult to predict.

“You know generally the season is going to be particular to, let’s say, tree versus grasses or weeds,” Kavosh said. “But it’s hard to predict whether this tree only is going to be high today.”

Humidity, too, can play a role in allergies. When humidity is low and the weather is dry, wind can easily blow the pollen. When humidity is high, water traps pollen and drags it to the ground. North Texas, as many residents know, has a variety of humidities that change on a day-to-day basis.

Kavosh said the humidity in North Texas is often so heavy that he’s seen patients who never had allergies suddenly develop symptoms or even allergic asthma in their 50s or 60s.

That is “something you don’t even see in other parts of the country, let alone in some parts of the world,” he said.

Five Texas cities ranked within the top 20 metropolitan areas having high pollen counts in the Asthma Capitals 2018 Report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. McAllen and San Antonio took the top two spots — Dallas was No. 17.

Highest pollen counts nationwide

Listed below are 20 U.S. cities with the highest pollen counts.

Pollen Ranking

Metropolitan Area

1

McAllen, TX

2

San Antonio, TX

3

Richmond, VA

4

Bridgeport, CT

5

Hartford, CT

6

New Haven, CT

7

Springfield, MA

8

Oklahoma City, OK

9

Wichita, KS

10

Syracuse, NY

11

Providence, RI

12

Dayton, OH

13

Austin, TX

14

Pittsburgh, PA

15

El Paso, TX

16

Memphis, TN

17

Dallas, TX

18

Miami, FL

19

Grand Rapids, MI

20

Las Vegas, NV

Allergy skin tests or blood tests can help Texans discover what’s causing their allergies. The skin test takes about 15 to 20 minutes to administer at an allergist’s office and will show what grasses, trees, pollens and foods may be causing an allergic reaction.

Kavosh said there are three main treatment options: avoidance, medication and immunotherapy.

Nasal sprays are more effective than antihistamine pills but only act as a Band-Aid for a deeper problem, he said.

“I always tell my patients that even if the medications are making you feel better, they’re not really treating the cause of it,” Kavosh said. “They’re masking the symptoms. But the inflammatory cascade is going to continue to resurface if you’re just taking the medicines.”

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, requires a skin test and is what Kavosh called “the closest thing that we have to a cure” because it shuts down antibodies made against the allergy, which bind to pollen and create an inflammatory reaction.

Regardless of treatment, Kavosh recommends that people get an allergy test. Sometimes what may seem like allergy symptoms are actually more concerning medical conditions.

“Once you know what you’re allergic to, it’s really half the battle,” Kavosh said. “No matter what treatment you’re on, the cornerstone, the bare minimum, is trying to avoid the allergens.”

When you allergies get to be too much, Berkeys can help you keep the indoor air clean and reduce the allergens in your environment.

Berkeys Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical is a proud member of the Dallas / Fort Worth community, Our reliable, professional employees will help you keep your home’s systems running efficiently and safely so you can enjoy our great DFW metroplex.

When you need a dependable, knowledgeable plumber, electrician or HVAC technician in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, call a name you trust. Berkeys Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical 24/7, Call us 972-439-1581 or visit berkeys.com for questions and scheduling information or on Facebook at Facebook.com/Berkeys.

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