Approximately 30 million Americans suffer from hay fever or allergic rhinitis. The allergy symptoms from these conditions include persistent runny noses, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes and coughing.
These symptoms can be miserable if not treated. They can affect your sleep as well as your ability to work and have fun.
So how can you beat allergies this fall? By understanding your autumn allergies and knowing how to defend against allergies and treat the symptoms. Read on.
Causes of Fall & Winter Allergies
Fall allergies are caused by different triggers than spring allergies. While people certainly suffer from hay fever and allergic rhinitis in the spring, their symptoms are caused primarily by pollen from trees. That changes in the summer, once trees are fully budded. Then, allergy symptoms begin to come from the pollen of grasses and weeds. Timothy grass, for example, is sometimes used for hay — hence the term “hay fever.”
Fall allergies are primarily caused by pollen from ragweed. Seventy-five percent of allergy sufferers who are allergic to spring allergy triggers also are allergic to ragweed pollen, so they will have symptoms in the fall as well.
Don’t have ragweed fields near you? It doesn’t matter. Pollen is carried by winds that can take it far away from the point of origination.
The other primary trigger for fall allergies is mold. Mold may be in your house as a result of dampness in your basement, for example. If your heating vents contain mold, firing up the heater as colder weather comes may spread mold in the house. Fallen leaves can also contain mold.
Dust can cause fall allergy symptoms as well. If you’re allergic to dust, it will bother you year around, but you are more likely to be indoors where dust can really get to you in cooler months.
Pet dander also causes allergic symptoms in many people. This, like dust, is year round, but your pets are more likely to be enclosed with you, without open windows and doors, in the fall and winter.
How to Treat Allergy Symptoms
How can you effectively treat those annoying fall allergy symptoms? Fortunately, there are a number of ways:
A variety of medications are available to treat symptoms like runny noses and watery eyes. They include oral antihistamines, eye and nose drops, and decongestants.
2. Natural Remedies
You can also go the route of natural remedies to help treat the symptoms, such as:
- Butterbur is an herb that can be found in tablet form. It has been shown to be as effective as antihistamines in some patients.
- Stinging nettle can be purchased dried and reduces runny noses and sneezing.
- Quercetin is a naturally-occurring antioxidant in a number of fruits and vegetables. It can help relieve itching.
- Acupuncture relieves the symptoms of hay fever in some patients.
- Honey made from local flowers and plants can help immunize patients against pollen, according to some studies.
How to Manage Fall Allergy Symptoms
Allergy sufferers can also greatly benefit from management of the conditions that lead to allergies. These conditions include the following:
1. Monitor the Pollen Count
There’s a reason many weather sites give the pollen count. It can vary day by day. If it’s particularly high, make plans to avoid going outside.
2. Avoid Peak Pollen Times Every Day
No matter the pollen count for any individual day, pollen is always at its height between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. If you can avoid being outside during those times, it will help your symptoms.
3. Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned for Fall
Dust mites and mold hide in air ducts. It’s a good idea to have them cleaned every fall.
4. Keep Your Doors and Windows Closed
As tempting as it may be to let in crisp fall air at night, that air may be swimming with pollen come morning. Until genuinely cold weather comes and signals the end of pollen, you’ll let more pollen in if your doors and windows are open. It’s best to keep them closed.
5. Bathe and Wash Your Hair Frequently After Being Outside
When you’re outside, pollen gets on your body and hair. You bring it inside, where it will spread invisibly. Get rid of as much pollen as possible by bathing and shampooing your hair after you’ve been outside.
6. Do Laundry More Often
Obviously, you can’t avoid some contact with materials in your house after being outside. Your clothes will have pollen on them. Sheets, towels, and washcloths will pick up pollen. Be mindful of all the household items that may have come into contact with pollen and wash them frequently.
As you’re sneezing and itching your eyes this season, remember there are many things you can do to manage exposure and cut down on the amount of pollen and other allergens entering your home. Bring it on colder weather!