Maryland’s top 5 allergy triggers

allergensInMarylandBy Betsy Stein

Is your tot suffering from itchy eyes or runny nose with maybe a little eczema thrown in? Maryland is a tough state when it comes to allergies.

If you are wondering what might be plaguing your little one, read on for the top five worst allergens in Maryland, according to allergists Dr. Timothy Andrews from Allergy & Asthma Associates in Arnold and Dr. Duane Gels from Annapolis Allergy and Asthma.

Top worst allergens in Maryland

  1. Tree pollen, specifically oak. Maryland has its highest pollen count each spring. Things start ramping up in mid-April and continue until June. "When in full swing, pollen counts go from the hundreds to the thousands and, by far, the mighty oaks win out, contributing 50 percent more than any other tree species," Gels says.
  2. Grasses and ragweed. As soon as lawn-mowing season begins, grass allergies kick in. "Families stumble out of minivans with lacrosse sticks and soccer balls into breezy fields of freshly mown Bermuda grass ... and suddenly erupt into fits of sneezing, sniffling and nose blowing," Gels says. Come August, ragweed adds to the Maryland misery, Andrews adds.
  3. Mold. Mold can be everywhere — outside amidst the soggy leaves and in a home, especially areas that have sustained water damage, Andrews and Gels agree. Prolonged exposure to mold can cause more than simple allergies and can lead to other respiratory health concerns.
  4. Dust mites. Maryland's prolonged humidity and moderate temperatures favor dust mite growth, and staying indoors assures heavy exposure, Gels says. Mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting are home to dust mites. Washing bedding in hot water and encasing mattresses in mite-proof covers helps, but frequent vacuuming does not, Gels says.
  5. Pets. According to Gels, 68 percent of homeowners own furry pets, and allergies can be triggered not just by cats and dogs, but also by horses, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits, ferrets, birds and more.

To manage your child's allergies, Andrews suggests starting with a daily over-the-counter antihistamine. If that does not help, testing by an allergist is the next step. Nasal sprays can be prescribed or, if the allergies are severe, shots may be necessary, he says.

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