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Sneezing A Lot Because Of Santa Ana Winds? It's More Than Just Allergies Making You Miserable

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The Santa Ana winds are kicking up for the second time this week, and red flag warnings are in effect for parts of Southern California.

If your eyes have been watering and you've been sneezing and coughing a ton, you're not alone -- and you should prepare yourself for more.

The winds usually aggravate allergies, but there's a separate reason behind why they seem worse this year. You can thank all the ash and particulates from California's many, many wildfires, as well as mold spores.

"Those small little particles are what are getting into your nose and eyes," UCLA allergist Dr. Rita Kachru said in an interview with KPCC's Take Two. "It's not allergies. You're having an inflammatory reaction to these little irritant particles."

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She noted that the pollen count is at zero in the air quality index, so trees and grasses and weeds are less likely to blame right now. Instead, these recent strong winds have been carrying particulates in the air and bringing them directly to your nose.

"You can actually have ash that are 90 miles, 100 miles away that get kicked up and are in the air," Dr. Kachru added. "Even if a fire was a year ago."

The best way to address any reaction is to prevent it first. She recommends clearing those particles out with a sinus rinse, rinsing your eyes and gargling with salt water, especially if you've been outside for a long time.

Antihistamines and decongestants can help, too, if symptoms have already set in. But just know that you're not alone.

"We've been seeing a lot of red swollen eyes, coughing, sneezing and itching lately," Dr. Kachru said.

Editor's note: Listen to the radio version of this story here on KPCC's Take Two.

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