It’s that time of year again. The sun and fun of summer are quickly slipping away to be replaced by the crisp cool of fall. This seasonal change means that many of us will once again have our sinuses assaulted by those pesky allergies.
If you are one of the 50 million people in the United States who suffer from sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and itchy throat, eyes or skin around this time every year, you may have seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is most often caused by ragweed in the fall. On the East Coast, allergy symptoms spring up in August when ragweed starts to bloom, are at their peak in mid-September, and can last through November. While ragweed is the most common allergen, other triggers include mold spores and pollen from trees, grass and weeds.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there are many different climate and weather factors that can go into how bad your allergies will be on any particular day:
- Expect pollen counts to rise the day after heavy rainfall or when it’s windy and warm out.
- Mold tends to grow faster in the heat and high humidity.
- Don’t bother trying to move to get out of the way of your allergies; triggers can be found in all parts of the United States.
So what can you do about your allergies? There are many little things you can do throughout your day to lessen the effects of allergies:
- Seasonal allergies can often be controlled with over the counter medication like decongestants and antihistamines.
- It might be helpful to keep windows in your home and car closed during the day, so pollen can’t get in.Also, if you can, stay indoors in the middle of the day when pollen is at its peak.
- If you do go outside for an extended period of time, shower and wash your clothes right away.
- Hair can often carry a lot of pollen or other allergy triggers. Women with long hair should change your pillowcase frequently to avoid allergens sticking to your pillow and rubbing your face while you sleep.
If these at home remedies aren’t enough to control your symptoms, you should see an allergist. The doctor will be able to narrow down your triggers and put you on a specific treatment plan.
One of the treatment plans an allergist can recommend for seasonal allergy sufferers is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a series of shots that your doctor will give you that contain small doses of the allergen that you are allergic to. Over time, your body will start to produce an antibody that will reduce the symptoms you experience when exposed to that allergen in nature. Treatment plans can last up to 5 years depending on how bad your symptoms are, but the success rate is very high so it is usually a worthwhile investment.
So instead of suffering through yet another fall with a box of tissues and countless meds, you should go see your allergist. Your body will thank you.