Many allergy sufferers let out a sigh of relief when spring is over. They feel the pollen dissipating as summer dawns and believe they’ll finally be free of sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat until it comes back around the next year.
But many people also suffer from fall allergies. Ragweed is the main culprit then, gearing up in August and continuing to make people miserable until the first frost of winter. Other fall allergies are caused by mold spores activated by high winds and humidity. And if the area you live in happens to experience “Indian Summer” and temperatures are higher than usual well into the fall, you’ll find that your symptoms may even last though the winter holidays.
While you can’t eliminate the proliferation of ragweed or control the weather, there are many things you can do to lessen the negative impact fall allergies have on your life. Here are a few of the easiest:
Clean All Filters
Air conditioning and furnace filters are natural magnets for mold, ragweed, and pollen accumulation, so do your best to keep them clean or, better yet, regularly replace them. If your landlord is in charge of these devices, ask them to regularly maintain them. For best results, do this before each new season gets underway. Clean filters also make these systems operate more efficiently, so you (or your landlord) will be saving money at the same time. Be sure to keep the air vents on your PC and tall room fans clean as well.
Close Your Windows
As much as that breeze feels good gently wafting through your home, it’s also full of the offending natural substances that aggravate your allergies. Closing the windows and relying on fans and air conditioning to stay cool is a better option.
Get Rid of Leaves
As lovely as those autumn leaves are, they develop leaf mold when they pile up on the ground. This is great for soil enrichment but bad news for allergy victims as it causes sneezing and congestion. Wearing a protective mask, rake them up and discard them in a tightly-lidded container. If possible, get someone without allergies to do the job for you.
Up Your Leafy Greens Intake
Eating lots of greens is always good for your health, but they are especially effective at fending off allergy symptoms. Kale is chock-full of Vitamin A, which energizes you and staves off allergy symptoms. The Vitamin C in broccoli fights allergy side effects as well, especially keeping sinuses clear for easier breathing.
Give Meds a Chance
In the past few decades, over-the-counter allergy medicines have become significantly more effective, so if you haven’t tried them lately, you may want to give them another chance. Research all the different types to find the ones that are best for the allergies you suffer from and try different brands (with different ingredients and dosages) if the first one doesn’t work.
Saline Sprays and Drops
These products are ideal for clearing pollen from your nose and eyes. They are especially effective when used immediately after coming in from the outdoors.
You have to carefully follow the directions for nasal steroids, but they work wonders for many with troublesome allergies. You have to follow the dosage instructions to the letter, and they must be administered pointing directly from the nose to the ear. Be patient though, because it commonly takes a few days before you start feeling relief from these.
Antihistamines and Decongestants
Antihistamines block histamine receptors in your body, which reduces sneezing, sniffling, and itching. Decongestants reduce the size of blood vessels in your nasal passageways, so your congestion is minimized and breathing comes easier.
Seek out eye drops specifically developed for the itchy, watery eyes associated with seasonal allergies. Contact lenses irritate your eyes regardless of allergies, so you’ll find removing them and wearing glasses during allergy season extra helpful. If you don’t want to give up the contacts, you should at least keep them moist and pliable with rewetting drops made especially for contact lens wearers. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you don’t sleep in contacts when your allergies are active.
Monitor the Pollen Count
Pollen counts typically peak between 4:00 am and 8:00 am, so switching your early morning outdoor activities to evening ones during allergy season can ease your suffering and make the rest of your day more pleasant. Frequent showering and shampooing after being outside gets rid of any pollen you’ve collected. You can also monitor the pollen count by signing into several free websites that give daily readings for all areas in the US.
See a Specialist
If none of these solutions work for you and your allergies are still making you miserable, contact an allergist. Allergy injection therapy, also called immunotherapy, prevents allergy symptoms for many people and in many cases reduces the need for other medications. The injections are fairly painless, and the rewards are often life-changing.
Some allergies start in childhood and linger throughout your life. Others can develop at any age and last for only a couple seasons. Whatever the case, you’ll find that controlling your environment and responsibly using allergy medications can drastically improve your quality of life come fall.