It's fall, and the blooms of summer have faded. So how come you're still sneezing? Fall allergy triggers are different, but they can cause just as many symptoms as in the spring and summer.
Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall. Though it usually starts to release pollen with cool nights and warm days in August, it can last into September and October. About 75% of people allergic to spring plants also have reactions to ragweed.
Even if it doesn't grow where you live, ragweed pollen can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind. For some people who are allergic to ragweed, certain fruits and vegetables, including bananas, melon and zucchini can also cause symptoms.
Mold is another fall trigger. You may think of mold growing in your basement or bathroom--damp areas in the house--but mold spores also love wet spots outside. Piles of damp leaves are ideal breeding grounds for mold.
Don't forget dust mites. While they're common during the humid summer months, they can get stirred in the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall.
Going back to school can also bring allergies in kids because mold and dust mites are common in schools.
Symptoms of fall allergies include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, throat and nose and dark circles under the eyes.
The physicians at Bucks ENT can find out what is causing your itchy eyes and runny nose. We'll talk to you about your medical history and symptoms and may recommend a skin test. If a skin test is performed, a tiny amount of allergen will be placed using a skin prick. If you are allergic to it, you'll get a small raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite.
Sometimes a blood test may be used to figure out a cause.
Allergies are treated in several different ways:
Steroid nasal sprays (Flonase, Nasacort...) can reduce inflammation in your nose.
Antihistamines (Zyrtec, Claritin...) help stop sneezing, sniffling, and itching.
Decongestants (Sudafed) help relieve stuffiness and dry up the mucous in your nose
Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots, drops or oral tablets can also help you symptoms.
You can buy some allergy medications without a prescription, but talk to your doctor to make sure you get the right one. Decongestant nasal sprays (Afrin, Neosynephrine...), for example should be used for no more than 3 days. If you use them longer, you may actually get more congested. And, if you have high blood pressure, some allergy medications may not be right for you.
Here are some tips to manage symptoms:
Stay indoors with the doors and windows closed when pollen is at its peak (late morning or midday).
Check pollen counts in your area (there is a link on our website)
Before you turn on your heat for the first time, clean your heating vents and change the filter.
Use a HEPA filter in your heating system to remove pollen, mold and other particles from the air.
Use a dehumidifier to keep your air at between 35% and 50% humidity.
Wear a mask when you rake leaves so you don't breathe in mold spores.
The physicians at bucks ENT Associates are experts in allergy treatment. Please schedule an appointment to correctly diagnose and treat your symptoms.
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