“If it feels as though your allergy symptoms flare up earlier and earlier every year, you’re probably not wrong,” says allergist Stephen Tilles, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Climate change may actually be causing an earlier and longer fall allergy season. In addition, windy days can mean heightened allergy symptoms because wind can carry the pollen from ragweed, grasses and trees up to 100 miles from its source.”
Ragweed pollen is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall, and needs to be avoided, along with other allergic triggers like mold and grass pollen. Here are five tips from ACAAI to help you steer clear of your worst allergy foes.
- Plan your battle in advance. Although they are labeled “fall allergies” many allergic triggers start to appear in mid-to-late August. Start taking your allergy medications about two weeks before your symptoms normally start. Getting in front of your symptoms means controlling them a lot better. Don’t stop your medications until pollen counts have been down for about two weeks.
- Fight mold. Mold allergies can be tough to outrun. Mold can grow anywhere there is water, and is a frequent foe in the fall. Mold can be found in your basement, bathroom, a leaky cabinet under your sink, or in a pile of dead leaves in your backyard. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can also help ward off mold by keeping home humidity below 60 percent and cleaning gutters regularly.
- Keep pollen at bay. Ragweed, or any pollen that triggers your allergy symptoms, needs to be kept out of your house. Leave your shoes at the door, and take a shower, wash your hair and change clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors. Close both car and home windows, and use your air conditioning so pollen doesn’t get indoors. Monitor both pollen and mold counts to help you know when you’re less likely to be under siege.
- Be armed for combat. Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other outdoor chores. Wear gloves so you won’t transfer pollen to your eyes or skin. Take your allergy medication before heading outside. If you’re allergies are severe, consider having someone else do the gardening and fall raking.
- Find an ally. See your allergist. Allergists are trained to identify your allergies and provide a personal treatment plan. They can also provide immunotherapy – allergy shots – which target your exact triggers and can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms. Allergy shots can also prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies.
If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies and asthma, use the ACAAI website to find an allergist in your area.
About ACAAI The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.