People with spring and summer allergies breathe sighs of relief as the seasons change, but fall brings misery to others. After flowers and sunshine are replaced with falling leaves, annoying bouts of sneezing, coughing, runny nose and watery, itchy eyes plague fall allergy sufferers. Fortunately, if you’re aware of common fall allergens, and learn to limit your exposure, there are many ways to avoid or lessen symptoms.
Ragweed Pollen: Multi-Season Misery
Ragweed is the biggest fall offender. The flowering weed begins to release pollen in late summer and continues until the first freeze. If you’re allergic to spring flowers and plants, you’re likely to be allergic to ragweed. To lessen your reaction, stay indoors when pollen counts are highest in the morning and early afternoon. Invest in a painter’s mask to filter pollen when you must be outdoors. Keep your windows and doors closed, and remove shoes and coats when entering your home. Vacuum your carpets and upholstery with a machine that incorporates a HEPA filtration system, and use HEPA air cleaners and air conditioner filters throughout your home.
Mold: The Moisture Menace
Mold, which grows readily in moist indoor and outdoor environments, is another common fall allergy trigger. Like pollen, mold spores are airborne. They often settle and grow in piles of wet leaves, compost bins, basements, kitchens and bathrooms. To prevent mold growth, don’t allow leaves or other moist waste materials to accumulate in your yard. Address any plumbing, roof or basement leaks immediately. Clean bathrooms and kitchens thoroughly, and keep your indoor relative humidity between 35 and 50 percent.
Interior Triggers: Dust Mites and Pet Dander
Dust mites and pet dander are present year-round, but they may be more problematic in fall. You’ll likely be spending more time indoors where these substances are floating in the air, and you’ll also restart your heating system, which can stir up allergens lurking inside dirty duct work. To decrease dust mite problems, clean your home, and wash bed linens in hot water regularly. Use dust-proof pillow cases and mattress covers. Consider replacing carpet with hardwood or tile flooring. For pet allergies, avoid direct contact with pets. Bathe and groom them regularly, and don’t allow them in sleeping areas.
Seek Help for Severe Symptoms
If your allergies are severe, or don’t respond to conservative measures, see your doctor. Treatments such as steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants and allergy shots are available to ease your symptoms.