According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) hay fever affects more than 23 million Americans - as many as 15 percent of adults and children.
"People who suffer from hay fever need to be aware that symptoms can start in mid-to-late summer, and take action now" said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "That means taking medication two weeks before symptoms begin, and continuing for two weeks after the first frost. It may also be time to see your allergist."
So what to do about fall allergy symptoms? The first line of defense is to avoid triggers. After spending time outdoors, shower, change and wash your clothes. While working outdoors, wear a NIOSH N95-rated filter mask. Only N95 masks filter out pollen due to its micro size. Be sure to also keep your car and home windows closed.
If avoiding triggers doesn't work, the next step is medication. Antihistamines are inexpensive and commonly used to treat hay fever. These medications counter the effects of histamine, the chemical released in your body when an allergic reaction takes place. Antihistamines help relieve nasal allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and runny nose, eye itching, tearing and redness, Itchy skin, hives, and eczema. They are effective in patients with milder symptoms.
For more moderate to severe symptoms of hay fever, immunotherapy (allergy shots) are the next step. They're particularly effective because each injection can be customized to an individual's allergic needs. An alternative to shots for ragweed allergy sufferers is available for the first time this year in a pill recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The pill is taken under the tongue where it dissolves, and the first dose must be taken in an allergist's office to observe for and treat an allergic reaction, should it occur. After that it can be taken at home.
The ragweed pill must be started about 12 weeks before ragweed season begins, so it's too late for this year. In addition, while allergy shots can be formulated to treat specific combinations of allergies, the pill only addresses allergy to ragweed.
For more information about seasonal allergies, and to locate an allergist in your area, visitAllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
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