As summer changes to fall, three things come to mind – cool, crisp air … bright, colorful leaves … and allergies. Though it’s a favorite time of year for some people, it can be miserable for others. In the United States alone, approximately 23 million people suffer from seasonal allergies.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to enjoy fall activities, like visiting pumpkin patches and going on hayrack rides. When the pleasant temperatures and turning leaves are accompanied by sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, itchy throats, and headaches, it can make a person want to stay inside.
What’s the cause?
The main culprit of allergy attacks is ragweed, producing over a billion pollen grains per plant. Ragweed releases these allergens into the air, resulting in allergic reactions. This troubling plant blooms during August and grows nationwide.
Another cause of fall allergies is the growing mold and bacteria present in piles of leaves that collect on the ground. While they may look symbolic and colorful, they become an excellent breeding ground for mildew and all sorts of bacteria once the leaves start to decay. The growing mold releases spores into the air, which can result in watery eyes and a runny nose when breathed in.
Lastly, there are dust mites. While these are more common during the summer, they are present all year-round. Your home’s air vents are home to dust mites, and turning on the heat this season may mix them into the air, leading to wheezing and sneezing. So while you may avoid ragweed and mold by hiding inside, you still might have to deal with dust mites.
What you can do.
There are a number of ways you can prevent allergies from ruining your fall. Here are some tips so that you can enjoy the season.
For pollen, stay informed by paying attention to the pollen count announced by your local news. Pollen counts are usually high from 5 a.m. -10 a.m. Stay indoors as much as possible during these times. You can also check Pollen.com. Simply input your city or zip code in the website’s search bar to check the forecast.
Limit the amount of pollen coming into your home, as well. Avoid hanging your clothes out to dry because pollen will stick to them. It’s also helpful to remove your coat and shoes before entering the home. Finally, regularly vacuum all carpets, furniture, drapes, etc.
For mold, limit your family’s and your contact with decaying leaf piles. Before they start to mold and spread spores, clear your yard of leaf piles and avoid areas where leaves collect. Wearing a respirator mask is also a great way to prevent allergic symptoms when clearing out decaying leaf piles.
Keep the humidity of your homes in check. Consider purchasing a hygrometer to measure the humidity level and adjust accordingly. A dehumidifier will also be effective in managing mold by removing any excess moisture in damp areas such as the basement.
For dust mites, clean out your air vents before first use to remove them and avoid stirring them into the air. Replace your beddings and pillowcases with dust-proof covers. Finally, install HEPA filters into your heating system, as this will prevent dust mites, pollen, and mold particles from entering the air.
For other ways to manage your allergies, talk to your doctor. He or she will have suggestions for you, which might include over-the-counter or prescription medications (like antihistamines) to help you manage your symptoms.
What do you do?
We hope these tips will help you enjoy your fall. If you know people who could benefit from this information, please forward it to them.
How have you dealt with your allergies? Have you do tried something we haven’t mentioned here? Post your suggestions in the comment section below.