The change of season brings crisp days, chilly nights and unfortunately, fall allergies. Tree pollen may get your nose itching and eyes watering in spring but something else causes those symptoms in fall. It could be ragweed pollen (it can last into October), mold (piles of damp leaves and wet basements), or dust mites. Read on to find out what allergies are, what can cause them, and how to ease your symptoms.
What are allergies?
An allergic reaction occurs when your body comes into contact with a foreign substance, called an allergen (pollen, bee venom, etc.). Your body identifies this substance as harmful, even when it isn’t. Then, when you come into contact with that allergen again, it will react to it, causing allergy symptoms.
Allergy symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the particular allergy. Some common symptoms include: itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; runny nose; and congestion. These symptoms may seem like a cold, but allergy symptoms and cold symptoms differ in two respects. Colds generally include a fever, whereas allergies do not, and colds generally last 7-10 days while allergy symptoms may be present an entire season.
5 Tips to reduce allergens
1. Keep windows and doors closed – Restricting the amount of outside air that comes into your home may help those with airborne allergen sensitivities.
2. Wash bedding and clothes – Frequently wash bedding, clothes and other washable items in hot water to help reduce the amount of dust mites and dander in the home.
3. Vacuum often – Vacuuming the carpeted areas of your home can help eliminate common allergens. Don’t forget to vacuum the drapes and stairs as well.
4. Change your air filter – Make sure to replace the air filter in your heating and cooling unit. Old filters tend to re-circulate allergens back into the air. Consider purchasing a special filter designed specifically to reduce allergens in your home’s air.
5. Take a shower – Shower and change into clean clothes after spending much of the day outside. This will rinse pollen and dust from your skin and hair.
If your seasonal allergies are generally mild, nasal sprays and oral antihistamines can help manage the symptoms. However, your body may eventually build up tolerance to an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. If OTC treatments won’t reduce your symptoms, it may be time to talk with a physician. You may need a prescription or other treatment.
By following these tips, making a few lifestyle changes, and seeing a doctor, you can enjoy the great outdoors, and indoors, with everyone else this fall.