California's El Nino rains have brought a bumper crop of allergy-producing mold and pollen, and people are suffering.
Doctors' waiting rooms are clogged with the sniffling, wheezing and itchy-eyed."I have patients who haven't had allergy attacks for 15 years coming in with 10 days of horrible allergic symptoms," Dr. Bernard Geller, a Santa Monica allergist, said recently. "They have mountains of tissues alongside their bed and are being chased out of the bedroom by their spouses because they are sneezing all day long."
Los Angeles had its wettest February on record with 13.68 inches of rain, toppling the 1884 record of 13.37.
The rain is stimulating the growth of mold, trees and grass. More misery lies ahead in the summer when weeds and flowers blossom.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the incredibly green hillsides," Geller said.
He thinks rye grass planted to hold back mudslides in fire-scorched areas is a major culprit.
He advises the allergy-afflicted to keep their windows closed and put high-efficiency particle air filters in their bedrooms.
Among his new patients is Darlene Martin, 38, a registered nurse from Santa Monica whose asthma has spiraled out of control with the rains.
"I'm having asthma attacks every night. Something in the air is making breathing more difficult," she said. "I can get short of breath and I'm fit."
A series of allergy tests revealed she's sensitive to several grasses and molds, which thrive in moisture. She is now taking five medications.