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Published on September 08, 2014

Tackling Fall Allergies

September 8, 2014

little girl sneezing into a tissue in a field of wild flowersFall weather may spell relief from warm-weather allergies, but as the air turns crisp and the leaves fall, new sources of allergens spring up.

Allergens are tiny particles (such as pollen, spores or mites) that can cause the body’s immune system to react, but only in people with sensitivities. In people without sensitivities to allergy triggers, the same particles cause no reaction at all.

If you are one of the allergy-sensitive, keep your tissues handy. Fall is prime time for ragweed, mold and dust mites—all major causes of allergic reactions.

Allergic responses to common fall allergens include itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; itchy throat; runny nose; and red bumps on the skin known as hives. Allergens can also cause or increase asthma symptoms.

All About Ragweed

Ragweed is a plant that blooms between August and November. During that time, each plant releases around 1 billion grains of pollen, with pollen release peaking in the middle of September.

Pollen levels are usually highest on warm, windy days between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. You can help prevent exposure to ragweed pollen and allergic reactions by staying indoors during peak times and keeping doors and windows closed.

Frequent hand washing, wearing a dust mask when you are outdoors, and leaving pollen-covered clothes and shoes outside can limit ragweed pollen exposure.

Sweet Relief

An allergist can accurately diagnose your fall allergies and develop a treatment plan for addressing bothersome symptoms. A thorough allergy evaluation will involve a medical history and could include skin and blood tests.

Some mild cases of allergies may be handled by taking over-the-counter allergy medications. For more severe cases, allergists may recommend stronger medications or administer a series of allergy shots over the course of many months to help the body develop a natural tolerance to allergen triggers.

Minimize Allergens in Your Home

The home is ground zero for allergens. Removing dust, pollen and other substances from your home can help keep your family allergy-free, at least while they are indoors.

Dust mites are the most common indoor allergy trigger, and they thrive in soft surfaces such as carpet, couches, drapes and bedding. Banish these tricky allergens and pet dander by vacuuming often and regularly washing bedding and pet bed.

Minimize dust-gathering clutter and clean at least weekly with a damp cloth. Keeping your home tidy and moisture-free may help prevent mold and allergen build-up. Choose mild, natural cleansers. Harsh chemicals can also trigger allergic reactions.

Sources: greenamerica.org, acaai.org, huffingtonpost.com, weather.com, aafa.org

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