The leaves change, the temperature begins to drop, and the noses begin to itch and drip all over the place. That’s right, it’s fall allergy season.
There are two main sources of allergens in the Cincinnati area: weeds – most commonly ragweed – and mold. Ragweed flowers begin to ripen in August and release their pollen by mid to late October, posing a threat to anyone venturing outside.
Meanwhile, mold can be found anywhere where there are large amounts of fallen leaves and moist soil.
“The number of molds increases and decreases all year round, but in the fall, when the leaves fall, they get very high,” explains Dr. Kelly Allred Metz, an allergist with TriHealth.
Unfortunately for allergy sufferers who love autumn outdoor activities, corn fields, hay mazes, and pumpkin beds are particularly concentrated sources of mold spores.
You will be largely isolated from allergens if you stay indoors because air conditioners filter out about 95 percent of allergens, says Dr. Metz, however, there are a few other things allergy sufferers can do to prevent their symptoms from ruining their enjoyment of fall.
Allergy survival techniques
1. Check a pollen calendar
Depending on the weather and time of year, certain pollen counts can be higher than others. Local news channels often broadcast pollen levels that can help you understand your risk of allergy symptoms for the day. You can also check pollen calendars online.
2. Take into account the time of day
Count pollen Increase in the morning to peak in the early afternoon, and then drop again overnight. For pollen allergy sufferers, it is best to exercise outdoors in the early morning or late evening.
2. Change your clothes and shower after being outdoors
Pollen settles on your hair and clothing when you spend time outdoors. Changing and showering can rid you of these irritants when you get inside. Dr. Metz also suggests wiping pets after they’re outside.
3. Differentiate between cold and allergy symptoms
It can be difficult at first to distinguish between a runny nose resulting from a cold and not having an allergic reaction. Dr. However, Metz says there are ways to tell the difference.
“If it’s caused by an allergen, it lasts for weeks,” she says. “A cold occurs in 7 to 10 days. Allergies generally respond to antihistamines, but a cold does not.”
Allergy symptoms also worsen when exposed to triggers (that is, when you spend time outdoors), while cold symptoms remain pretty constant.
4. Determine the cause of your allergy symptoms
If you don’t know where your allergy symptoms are coming from, it is helpful to see a specialist, such as an allergist, who can do an allergy skin test to determine what you are allergic to. Once you know where your symptoms are coming from, you can determine whether it is more important to avoid sources of allergens outdoors or indoors.
5. Take an over-the-counter antihistamine
The best offense against fall allergies is good defense. Metz explains that starting daily treatment with over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays can serve as an effective treatment for allergens. However, if your symptoms are poorly treated by over-the-counter medications, an allergist may be able to suggest other methods of treating your allergies.
Visit a TriHealth Location near you for a consultation with Dr. Metz or another TriHealth certified doctor.