As different plants and microorganisms come out to play this fall, heightened allergy symptoms are common. What’s causing you to sneeze and your eyes to itch? Is there any way to get through the fall without using up the world’s supply of tissues and eye drops? Learn about fall allergy culprits and your keys to survival.
Culprits of Fall Allergies
Ragweed: When it comes to making your eyes water and your nose run in the fall, ragweed is the biggest contender. Plants start releasing pollen in August and continue into September and October. Even if ragweed doesn’t grow where you live, pollen can travel hundreds of miles on the wind and arrive uninvited on your doorstep. It’s interesting to know that some people with ragweed allergies also have problems eating bananas, zucchini, melon, and other fruits and vegetables.
Mold: Another common fall allergy trigger, you normally think of mold as inhabiting the damp areas of your home during summer. However, when dead leaves start to pile up outside, mold spores have a heyday growing on and decomposing this organic matter. Of course, this sends your allergies into a frenzy.
Dust mites: These microscopic little critters are common during the humid months of summer, but they may cause extra allergy symptoms when you crank on the furnace for the first time and unknowingly stir them up from their settled positions.
Take Medications to Treat Fall Allergies
You have many over-the-counter options for smothering your allergy symptoms, but it’s still a good idea to ask your doctor for tips on choosing the best one for you. For example, some allergy drugs may not be recommended if you have high blood pressure.
Some of your options include:
Steroid nasal sprays to reduce inflammation in your nose
Antihistamines to stanch your sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes
Decongestants to dry up mucus in your nose and clear your nasal passages
Allergy shots, oral tablets or drops to help you gradually build immunity to allergens
Reduce Exposure to Fall Allergens
If you want to reduce the amount of medications you take for your fall allergies, take steps to reduce exposure to allergens in the first place:
Check pollen counts daily and stay inside with the windows and doors closed when levels are high. Pollen counts tend to peak in the late morning or midday, so avoid the outdoors during these times.
Clean your furnace vents and change the filter before turning on the furnace for the first time. This helps remove mold, dust mites and other allergens trapped in the ducts before air starts to circulate through them.
Choose a high-efficiency furnace filter to more effectively trap mold spores, pollen and other airborne particles as they pass through the heating system.
Run a dehumidifier if needed to keep indoor humidity below 50 percent. As the weather continues to cool, humidity levels should drop naturally. In fact, you may need to run a humidifier in the winter to keep levels above 35 percent. Within this ideal range, dust mites, bacteria and viruses can’t survive as long.
Wear a mask when you rake leaves. Your neighbors might think you look a little funny, but it’s worth it to avoid breathing in mold spores.