As the autumn breeze picks up and the smell of summer drifts away... you’re still sneezing and sniffling all day and into the night. What’s going on? Odds are you’re among the 10% to 30% of Americans who suffer from hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. And most cases of hay fever are caused by an allergy to fall pollen from plants belonging to the genus Ambrosia -- more commonly known as ragweed.
"Fall is really a key point in the allergy season, mostly because of ragweed allergy, which affects most of North America," Dr. Nadim Bikhazi, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Ogden, Utah, tells Weather.com. "Each plant produces a billion grains of pollen, which can travel hundreds of miles and have a tremendous impact on the whole nation." Allergies rear their ugly heads for many people during this time of year, and ragweed is the culprit behind at least 36 million of those cases annually. If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who has to contend with this annoying and aggravating condition, it’s important to know that there are ways to manage the problem. There are a number of easy ways for you to create a better environment and minimize your sniffles.
Keep Things Clean. Unfortunately, that old standby – the “smell test” – isn’t going to do you any favors when it comes to combating allergies this fall. Even if you haven’t really dirtied up an article of clothing, be sure to wash it after every use. Otherwise, mold spores and pollen can cling to the clothing and exacerbate your problem. Since those things are impossibly small, you’d never even know they were there – even if you gave it a good, hard sniff. Be sure to jump in the shower as soon as possible after spending time outside, too, to keep those microscopic particles at bay.
Get Someone Else to Handle the Mowing. One way to get the coughing, hacking and wheezing to start is going out to mow the lawn. Although you might not want to spend any extra money, it would be well worth it to hire a landscaping company to do your mowing for you. Better yet, hire a neighborhood kid who wants a bit of spending money. Either way, you’ll steer clear of the worst ragweed problems.
Lose the Mold. Do a thorough inspection of your home on a regular basis to keep on the lookout for mold. Mold spores are nearly as bad as ragweed and pollen, and they can do a number on your sensitive respiratory system. By looking out for mold in the home, you can drastically reduce the amount that is swirling around and causing you problems. Allergy relief will be easier to come by if you quickly handle mold problems. If the problem is severe – or if your reaction is – then bring in the professionals.
Keep Those Windows Closed. As nice as it may be to let in the cool, crisp fall air, that air brings in countless amounts of pollen and other airborne particulates. You can minimize the amount of outdoor air pollution that makes its way into your home by keeping those doors and windows shut as much as possible. Also, be sure to switch your furnace air filters on a regular basis to avoid inadvertently letting in additional things that can make your allergies or other health problems worse.
Minimize Your Exposure to Pollen. If you’re a gardener, you probably like to get out there and do your work as often as possible. By avoiding the outdoors during certain times of day, though, you can steer clear of a lot of pollen exposure. The best time to do your gardening is on a cool, day. Otherwise, gardening about an hour after it rains is optimal, since most of the pollen has been washed away. Avoid being out there during the early morning hours or on especially dry, windy days.
Use An Air Purifier in Your Home. Even if you keep the doors and windows sealed shut, avoid going out during high-pollen days – and keep mold out of your home as much as possible – the fact is that the indoor air quality of your home is bound to harbor a lot of airborne particulates. Between dust mites, mold spores, pollen, pet dander and countless other pollutants, the air in your home is positively teeming with microscopic particulates that exacerbate allergies. Invest in a high quality air purifier that can remove those aggravating particles. The use of a good air purifier promotes a more healthy lifestyle for every single person in your home.