Its that time of year again… Fall months bring fall allergies, and the ragweed that comes along with it. As each ragweed plant produces one billion pollen grains per average season, the fall may just be the hardest time for people with seasonal allergies.
Those who live in New England actually suffer more than people who live elsewhere! Six New England cities made it on the list of the worst 100 cities for allergy sufferers. The worst in the region is Springfield, Mass at number 14.
The difference between spring allergy season and fall allergy season comes down to the trigger. Spring allergies are usually triggered by pollen from trees and grass, while fall allergies are almost exclusively caused by ragweed pollen. It’s weed produces billions of pollen grains and flourishes here in New England. Pollen, however, can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind. Even if it doesn’t grow in your area, you can still suffer from it! About ¾ of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed in the fall allergy season, as well.
The fall season usually runs from mid-August until the first frost of the year, around early October. This year, however, the first frost may come later so the allergy season may last longer. This year may be a particularly bad year for fall allergies for a few other reasons, as well. Thanks to a particularly wet summer, ragweed pollen levels are surging and standing water left over from summer flooding and Hurricane Irene has increased the amount of mold, a common year-round allergen, in the air.
Symptoms of fall allergies are the same as spring allergies or mold allergies. They typically include itchy, runny nose, itchy watery eyes, itchy throat, sneezing, and a nagging cough. For people with asthma, allergies can trigger asthma symptoms with wheezing, cough and shortness of breath.
If you know you usually get fall allergies, then take extra steps to limit your exposure to the pollen. One easy thing to do is to remove outdoor clothing before coming inside. It may help to shower before bedtime to get any pollen off your skin, and away from your bed. Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes or a facemask when raking leaves. In addition, change your air filters in your home, so they clean out the allergens instead of recirculating them into your home.
There are also over the counter medications that can limit your allergy suffering. If you know you tend to suffer from allergies, before the season starts, stock up on your medications like antihistamines and eye drops. Talk to your doctor about getting a steroid nasal spray to help with nasal and eye symptoms.
For people with significant allergy symptoms, allergy shots may help. They’re given by an allergist to slowly expose your body to larger and larger doses of pollen until you begin tolerant. When allergy shots work, they can ward off symptoms for several years.
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