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How Hurricane Harvey Caused a Long-Term Sinus Problem

When Hurricane Harvey ravaged through Houston, most people were worried about the flood damage and the impact sustained by falling trees, damaged housing and crushed infrastructure.  And while these are all valid issues to be concerned about, even more fundamental and in need of consideration is how Hurricane Harvey impacted our health. More specifically, how it affected the city’s sinus problem, and why to this day, there are still individuals suffering increased sinus related issues.  

flooded streets of hurricane harvey

Storm Related Symptoms

If you are used to experiencing seasonal allergies and are familiar with the discomfort associated with sinus pain, you may have come out of the hurricane, unsurprised by how you were feeling: stuffed up nose, plugged ears, headaches and watery eyes.  For those not prone to seasonal allergies however, suffering from these symptoms may have come as a surprise and the assumption that one simply has a cold. In reality though the increase in these symptoms was due to the increase in sinus related issues due to the storm.

Mold Moves in

Hurricane Harvey brought with it over 130 centimeters of rain, which fell during the short storm period, creating a 1-in-1000 year flood situation.  This much water results in a great deal of moisture, with rain seeping into everything in sight.  From moisture and rain, breeds mold, and the setting opens up the perfect opportunity for the inhabitance of bacterial and viral pathogens.  This mold and increase in potential infectious allergens is at the root of increased sinus issues. Research has shown that individuals who are exposed to water damaged buildings, which harbor mold, are also exposed to the inherent mycotoxins, which are associated with the mold.  These mycotoxins are harbored internally, remaining in the body where they are living in another moist and warm environment and can continue to reproduce and cause the unrelenting sinus issues, which explains how hurricane Harvey affects the sinus problem still now.

mold growing inside mouth from sinus infection

Sinus Issues are Here to Stay

The impact of all of this has been felt across the whole city. Not only are more people developing the issues and suffering from deteriorating health, but these sick people are not able to work, or else are not working at full capacity, are putting a burden on the healthcare system, due to the influx seeking treatment, and ultimately are impacting the economy of an already devastated city.  And while it seems as though helping the residents and improving the wellbeing of the citizens should be a top priority, sometimes, with so much damage and destruction, it’s not the first target that is offered support.

Places Over People

In times of severe city upheaval, such as bad storms, or large-scale city and infrastructure destruction, there is often a huge focus on rebuilding the city physically.  Officials focus on rebuilding roads, rebuilding infrastructure, reestablishing critical buildings and workplaces, and determining the change in need for resources and where they may come from.  And while all of this is important and an essential part of rebuilding, in many cases, it comes at the cost of the city’s own people. In some cases, issues such as increased outbreaks of sinus problems are left unattended or not given much attention because the physical rebuilding comes across as more pertinent and of higher priority.  As a result, this leaves many people within the city at sub-par functioning levels, while simultaneously becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of resources available or lack of help on offer.

aftermath of hurricane harvey

Be Your Own Doctor

If you are one of those people still suffering from increased sinus issues as related to Hurricane Harvey, it’s time to take action and work to address the issue.  While chronic sufferers may need to visit their doctor and receive more specialized treatment, in many cases, you can take the matter into your own hands and execute your own strategies to improve your symptoms and reduce your distress and discomfort:

  • If you haven’t already, be sure to contact a mold removal specialist and have your home properly cleaned.
  • Begin using a dehumidifier in your home to continue to remove excess moisture, which could be contributing to the mold problem.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend in your home if possible, and opt instead to be outside in the fresh air.
  • Decrease the number of houseplants you have: a few will help facilitate better air quality, but excess will simply contribute to increased humidity in your house.
  • Stay out of humid conditions such as saunas, pools or when it is particularly humid outdoors.

While the continued issue of Hurricane Harvey affecting the sinus problem still now isn’t going to go away any time soon, you can take steps to help reduce the amount that you are impacted by it and work to improve your overall health and functioning.  Even a few simple changes can have a big impact on how you feel and ultimately a positive impact on your quality of life.