Against 4 Autumn Allergies
When it comes to seasonal allergies, most people immediately
think of the pollen explosion in the springtime. But an itchy throat, teary and
red eyes, sniffles, and sneezing aren’t relegated to April and May alone. When
the leaves start to fall and the air cools, a host of allergens can cause the
same set of symptoms.
Rid Yourself of Ragweed
A single ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion
grains of pollen per season. This yellow flowering weed blooms in August
but causes allergic symptoms well into the fall, until the first freeze kills
the plant. It grows nationwide but is most prevalent in rural areas of the East
and Midwest. Approximately 75 percent of people who suffer springtime allergies
will also be affected by ragweed pollen, according to the Asthma and
Allergy Foundation of America.
Plan of Attack
local pollen count. Most local newspapers and TV news websites publish a daily
report. Stay indoors as much as possible, especially during peak hours (usually
mid-morning to early afternoon). If you have to go outside, wear a painter’s
mask to filter pollen.
and car windows completely closed. Take off your shoes and jacket before
entering your home. You don’t want to track in any pollen that you’ve picked up
outside. Vacuum carpets and upholstery regularly.
Wash your clothes,
linens, and curtains regularly. Don’t line dry your laundry outdoors. Bathe
your pets — especially outdoor dogs and cats — frequently.
Move Over, Mold
These fungi thrive both outdoors and indoors. They grow from
and produce spores that, like pollen, are spread by the wind or indoor air.
Mold and mildew tend to grow year-round. In the fall, they grow on damp fallen
leaves and compost piles. They thrive in damp areas indoors like basements,
bathrooms, and kitchens.
Unlike pollen, mold and mildew aren’t killed by the first
frost, but they do tend to go into a dormant phase during the winter months.
Plan of Attack
Rake your yard
of fallen leaves and remove leaves from gutters. Don’t leave piles of leaves in
your yard. Keep compost and yard-waste piles far away from the house, and wear
a protective mask when raking leaves and cleaning compost bins. Be sure to
empty bins regularly.
dehumidifier in the house, especially in the basement. Air should be between 35
and 50 percent humidity. Clean bathrooms and the kitchen regularly using
vinegar or store-bought anti-mildew agents to avoid mildew and mold buildup.
Dust mites are microscopic arthropods that feed primarily on
flakes of human skin that are shed naturally around the home. They’re a common
year-round allergen that thrives in temperatures ranging from the high 60s to
mid 70s. Dust mites usually die in extreme temperatures or if the humidity
drops below 70 percent.
It’s next to impossible to completely rid your home of dust
mites. But you can take steps to keep them at a manageable level.
Plan of Attack
vents throughout the house before turning the central heating unit on for the
first time after summer. Cover your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers
(dust mites love the bedroom). Regularly wash all bedding in hot water (130°F or higher).
dehumidifier to keep the air below 50 percent humidity. Dust and vacuum your home
regularly, and be sure to wear a filtering mask while cleaning. Consider
installing hardwood floors instead of wall-to-wall carpet.
Tidy Up Pet
Dander & Fur
Pet dander is comprised of dead skin that is shed by animals
in the home. Up to 40 percent of people with seasonal allergies also have pet
allergies. Pet allergies are triggered by an extra-sensitive immune system
reacting to dander, fur, saliva, or urine from pets.
Some dog breeds cause more reactions than others. Saint
Bernards and bulldogs are among the worst offenders. Cats are twice as likely
as dogs to cause allergic reactions in people.
Plan of Attack
contact with furry pets, especially cats and dogs, if you have known allergies.
If you’re set on having a family pet, consider breeds that are hypoallergenic,
such as Havanese and Schnauzers. Wash and groom pets regularly. Wearing a
filtering mask can help keep your allergies in check.
only allowing pets in specific areas of the home and keep them off furniture. Keep
litter boxes and pet bedding away from air vents, and use an air purifier to
help clean the air of pet allergens.
For many people, fall allergies can be controlled with
over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications that contain
antihistamine. They usually come in the form of pills, lozenges, eye drops, or
Neti pots with a saline rinse can be used to treat symptoms
of allergies. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can be an effective option if you
have severe allergies that don’t respond to over-the-counter options. The shots
work by gradually exposing the immune system to a certain allergen so it can
build up a tolerance.
Preparing yourself against allergies doesn’t mean standing
guard at the window in fear of pollen and other allergens. Taking the
precautions mentioned above can help make your allergies more manageable
throughout the year.