Fall Allergies are Back in the Air
Fall is a season that many people look forward to, as it brings cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and pumpkin-flavored treats. Unfortunately, much like the blooming spring flowers, certain foliage releases pollen into the air, triggering sneezing and a runny nose with fall allergies.
Primarily, the cause of most allergies from August through October stem from the hardy annual, ragweed. Overall, there are 17 different varieties in North America, and they can grow almost anywhere. The pollen from ragweed is extremely dominant, as one plant can produce one billion grains over just a single year. It easily floats on the breeze, spreading it far and wide – it has even been found in the air hundreds of miles out in the sea and two miles up in the atmosphere.
Of course, there are other factors that may be causing fall allergies, such as dust and mold. You may notice that your child seems to be having more symptoms after the return to school, especially if the building they attend is older, concealing the hidden triggers, even if the immediate surfaces have been cleaned. Mold will usually be the root cause of allergies once the ragweed season has ended in mid to late fall.
For those who seem to have more intense allergy symptoms, it is possible you more accurately are experiencing hay fever. Basically, with hay fever, your immune system is overreacting to the harmless allergens that have been inhaled. Along with usual allergy symptoms, like sneezing, you may also have swelling in nasal passages, dark circles under the eyes, and even nasal polyps and nosebleeds.
Thankfully, there are ways you can help to reduce or eliminate these allergy symptoms so you can enjoy the season to its fullest:
- Ensure your home is pollen-free. As great as it is to open the windows in the fall, it also lets all that pollen directly into your home. Keep windows and doors closed, and utilize the air conditioner to help remove moisture from the air, preventing mold growth. If you have carpet in your home, HEPA air filters are great, but because they can be expensive, simply having one in the room you spend the most time will help tremendously.
- Wear a mask. You may not wish to wear one all the time, but at least during yard work or outdoor activities will help filter out much of the pollen and mold before breathing it in. Masks should have an “N95” rating from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and can be found at drugstores or home improvement supply stores.
- Keep your face and hands clean. Anytime you come back inside, wash your face and hands to get rid of any lingering allergens. If you’ve been out for a while, take a full shower and change clothes.
- Steer clear of certain foods. Thanks to similar proteins to those in ragweed, bananas, melons and chamomile may make allergy symptoms worse. It is best to avoid these foods during the fall allergy season.
- Rinse your nose. If you don’t already have one, invest in a nasal irrigator such as the neti pot. This will help rinse out any allergens stuck in the nasal passages, causing symptoms.
- Be aware of pollen counts. On days when counts are particularly high, stay indoors to limit exposure. To track accurate counts in your location, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website.
If you have tried all preventative measures and are still not experiencing relief from your allergy symptoms, seeking help from medication may be necessary. Over-the-counter antihistamines, like Claritin and Zyrtec, will help with mild to moderate symptoms. Decongestants can help with congestion, but consult with your physician if you have high blood pressure before using. Steroid nasal sprays, like Flonase and Nasonex, are best for more severe and ongoing symptoms.
Fall allergies may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through them. If you need help finding relief, visit us today.