Fall is time for cooler temperatures, vibrant colored leaves, and, for some people, allergies.
When most people think of allergies, they think of spring when so many flowers bloom. But in late August and early September, the flowers of ragweed are prevalent, and damp weather makes a good environment for mold to develop. These changes produce a one-two punch for those who have to endure outdoor allergies.
Unlike a cold, allergies can strike suddenly and then can last — and last — until the allergy season ends. Symptoms include a sore throat, itchy eyes and nasal congestion – and they can all hit at once. With a cold, symptoms appear over time, and the cold often runs its course in a few days.
But the good news is that you can reduce the symptoms and impact of fall allergies. Here are four things to know about fall allergies, important tips for reducing your symptoms and exposure to allergens:
- Start taking an over-the-counter allergy medicine. If you have fall allergies, start taking an allergy medication before symptoms begin. You should keep taking the medication through the first frost because symptoms and pollen can linger even after pollen is no longer in the air. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about which medication is best for you.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Pollen and other allergens are everywhere, so keeping your hands clean can help reduce the spread of allergens. It’s also a good idea to keep your hands away from your eyes and nose. You can also shower at night to remove pollen or allergens that you’ve come in contact with during the day.
- Reduce allergen exposure in your car and home. When possible, close your home and car windows. By keeping windows closed, you will limit your exposure to allergens in spaces you occupy. You can also use this as an opportunity to switch out your home and auto air filters (yes, many vehicles have cabin air filters). Vacuuming regularly can also remove allergens from your home.
- Visit your doctor if symptoms persist. When sneezing, sniffling and itching eyes last more than two weeks or interfere with school or work, it’s probably time to get tested for allergies and put together a plan with your doctor. You may even need to meet with an allergist to discuss long-term options.