LOS ANGELES (July 29, 1998) -- El Niño has brought more than rainy weather to Southern California this year. According to two specialists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, allergy and asthma sufferers can expect more frequent and more severe attacks this year. Moreover, because of a related weather condition known as La Niña, the projection for next year is also for increased and more severe attacks. La Niña is a weather pattern of hot, dry winds which follows El Niño. While El Niño's wet weather causes a proliferation of plant growth and pollens, these dry and float to the desert floor as the rains decrease. However, as the La Niña pattern moves into place, the hot, dry winds kick up the pollens once again, renewing allergy and asthma attacks.
"This year, conditions in Southern California are worse for allergy and asthma sufferers because of the high levels of humidity that have resulted in excessive pollens, molds, ticks and mites," says Zab Mohsenifar, M.D., Chair of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Robert Eitches, M.D., an attending physician in the medical center's departments of internal medicine and pediatrics, agrees. The very rainy weather has resulted in increased mold growth, both indoors and outdoors, and has also resulted in rapid plant growth which leads to elevated pollen counts. In addition, when the weather is bad, people tend to stay indoors more, and the close proximity often results in viral infections which can lead to asthma attacks.
If that weren't enough, the high humidity has also provided an ideal environment
for cockroaches and microscopic dust mites -- the leading cause of asthma.
According to a recent survey, asthma rates are highest in the inner cities,
especially among African-Americans and Hispanic Americans, and especially among
youngsters who may be allergic to the proteins found in the saliva, droppings
and remains of cockroaches. Asthma
Contact: Sandra Van or Roberta Nichols
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center