Symptoms of Rita are still in the air

The remnants of Hurricane Rita are still in the air, literally, and it's sending people to the doctor's office. Everything from lingering mold to grass cutting is causing sniffily noses, watery eyes, and more. Tonight, KPLC's Laila Morcos has exactly what to do if you get caught with persistent respiratory aggravations.

Doctors' offices are seeing an influx of patients. "I don't know if that it's particularly allergies. I think it's upper respiratory infections, lower respiratory infections," says Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Susan Boyd.

She says there's still a lot of "stuff" in the air because of Rita. "There's more dust, there's smoke from burning all the trash. People are out in the yards cleaning up stuff, just stirring up a lot of garbage in the air," she say.

Plus, a lot of home environments have changed. She says, "Being in a hotel, different kind of air conditioning situations, changes in humidity, stress, not taking care of ourselves the way we should. Some people smoking more, drinking more."

All these things affect our respiratory and immune systems, so we're more susceptible to irritating symptoms.  Dr. Boyd says, "Coughing, runny nose, stuffy nose, congestion, discomfort in the sinuses, itchy eyes, water eyes, sneezing"  And the list goes on, resulting in a lot of aggravation.  Dr. Boyd says, "That's what it is.  Aggravation, whether it's allergy or just an irritant."

There are easy ways, however, to avoid getting these symptoms. "When you're out mowing a yard, wear a mask, when you're dusting or cleaning up, wear a mask," says Dr. Boyd.

And if you do breath in something irritating, use a simple salt and water solution to clean our your nose. Or just use an over-the-counter saline solution.  "It's like taking a shower. Anyone who goes outside and mows their lawn, when they come in and blow their nose, there's yuck in there," says Dr. Boyd.

But if symptoms are "sticking" around, check in with your doctor.

Have you been persistently sick sine the hurricane?  To participate on an online poll, click here.