Fall weather means crisp temperatures, cozy sweaters and warm, frothy lattes. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from fall allergies, it can also mean itchy eyes, runny nose and congestion.
Fall allergies are caused by an overreaction in the immune system. When you inhale allergy triggers, such as pollen or pet mold spores, your immune system identifies these particles as harmful substances and releases antibodies to neutralize the threat. These antibodies attach themselves to mast cells which release histamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that triggers allergy symptoms.
Approximately 75 percent of individuals who experience pollen allergies in the spring will also have reactions to ragweed, the biggest cause of fall allergies. Ragweed grows throughout North America and emits pollen between the months of August and November. Other common triggers of fall allergies include mold, dust mites and various plants.
While you can’t avoid exposure to outdoor allergens completely, there are several steps you can take to minimize allergens in your home. Here are some tips to combat fall allergies and keep your seasonal symptoms under control:
Make your home an allergen-free zone
Do your best to remove allergens from your living space with a thorough cleaning. Use a damp cloth to wipe down furniture and baseboards, and vacuum all carpets, drapes and upholstery. Installing HEPA air filters in your central air vents can help trap airborne allergens and prevent them from being recirculated.
Reduce pollen exposure by washing your hands and face after spending time outdoors. If the pollen count is particularly high or if you’ve spent a significant amount of time outside, you may need to shower, wash your hair and change into a fresh set of clothes.
Eliminate problematic foods
Does it seem like your allergy symptoms flare up after you eat certain foods? Your mind might not be playing tricks on you. Some people who are allergic to ragweed also have negative reactions to certain fruits and vegetables like bananas, melon, zucchini and chamomile. Pay special attention to these foods when you eat them and make note of any unusual reactions (Source: WebMD).
Visit your doctor
If all else fails, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or allergist for relief from your symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays are great for controlling allergy symptoms, but certain medications may interfere with preexisting health issues or cause problems with overuse. Discussing treatment options with your doctor will ensure that you find complete relief in the safest way possible.