While most of us are busy carving pumpkins for Halloween, some unlucky ones are stuck at home with a runny nose and watery eyes. Like it or not, fall also marks the arrival of allergies that shockingly affect around 40 percent of the American population each year.
The Allergens To Watch Out For
“The key fall allergens are ragweed and mold, but they rarely occur in the same environment. Ragweed grows from late-August through October and thrives in dry areas. In contrast, mold flourishes in wet, humid environment, so it can be difficult to avoid both allergens at the same time,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Pediatrician, Beverly Hills.
The weeds you are allergic to, says Michelle Katz, healthcare advocate and author of Healthcare made Easy, depend on the part of the country you live in. Goldenrod, curly dock, lamb’s quarters, pigweed, sheep sorrel, sage brush and ragweed—find out if they grow around you and inform your doctor. “Molds are another big cause as they grow on wet leaves and decomposing plants,” she says.
Warning signs to watch out for include sniffling, watery eyes and hives. “The release of a histamine can cause coughing, itchy eyes, nose, and throat, dark circles under the eyes, and even asthma attacks if you are prone to them,” says Katz.
What Experts Recommend
1. Take Off Your Shoes: Katz says that many people forget that to prevent their allergies they should take off their shoes before entering the house, and remove clothes worn outside.
“Keep in mind that pollen traps itself in your clothes and hair so taking more showers and washing clothes more frequently helps,” she says. She also suggests keeping the gutters clean, using a dehumidifier, and cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen regularly using vinegar or store-bought anti-mildew agents to avoid mildew and mold buildup.
2. Watch Out For Mold: Shainhouse suggests keeping the house and surroundings dry to prevent the growth of mold. “Pooled, stagnant water and wet, decaying vegetation are breeding grounds for molds. Clean up piles of wet leaves. If driving with the AC on, turn it off before turning off your car to leave the vents open to dry out and prevent mold and mildew,” she adds.
Allergy vaccines work very well for those whose allergies are not well-controlled on medication, or people who have adverse effects to medications, or people who hate medication. Shainhouse suggests taking an allergy pill daily such as Claritin (Loratidine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine), Allegra (Fexofenadine)—these are not sedatives and will, therefore, prevent a severe reaction if exposed.
3. Keep Off Dairy: “You can also try a dairy-free diet to reduce mucus and congestion. To help repair your immune system, make sure your gut is healthy by eating cultured foods (non-dairy) or taking a probiotic,” says Dr Susan Blum, a nationally recognized speaker, author and teacher of Preventative Medicine.
4. Maintain An Allergy Calendar: Murray Grossan, MD, recommends keeping an allergy calendar to note down your symptoms and check the internet and other sources to know when the pollen is high or not. “When pollen is low you can eat spicy foods, the higher your pollen count, the less spices or hot sauce you should eat,” she says.
5. Have Nettle Tea: “Nettles (as tea or as capsules) are a powerful home remedy that have no side effects including that dreaded hung over feeling you get the day after you use most anti-histamines, “ advises sports physician William D Charschan.
Things To Keep In Mind
Here are some other simple things that you can do to prevent an allergy.
- Stay indoors on windy days keeping windows and doors shut. If you have to leave, go out in the evening when the pollen count is low.
- Clean all air ducts, vents and replace filters in your car and home.
- Don’t let outdoor pets sit on your sofa or enter your bedroom; shower before sleeping, buy allergen-proof bedding, vacuum a lot.
- Wear a protective mask when cleaning the yard, empty bins regularly, and avoid foods that belong to the ragweed family such as bananas, zucchini, and melons.
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