Ready to say goodbye to seasonal allergies now that spring has passed? Not so fast. Unfortunately for many people, the approaching autumn doesn’t mean relief from sneezing. Instead, it marks a new array of allergy triggers.
“The biggest culprit of late summer and fall allergies is ragweed,” says Jeremy Bufford, MD, Meriter Medical Group allergist and immunologist. “More than 36 million Americans are allergic to ragweed pollen and many often suffer from allergies until the first frost. Just one ragweed plant can produce up to a billion pollen grains in one season.”
Mold Is Another Autumnal Trigger
Mold can grow on fallen leaves, on rotting wood and in compost piles. Mold can also grow indoors in areas that are moist, such as bathrooms. Pet dander and dust mites are other allergens that can cause year-round flare-ups.
Whether your allergies are caused by ragweed or another allergen, symptoms typically include watery eyes, congestion, nasal discharge, and an itchy throat and nose. Some people with severe allergies may also contend with chronic sinusitis, headaches, and asthma attacks.
To determine which allergen is causing your symptoms, talk with your doctor. A skin test can often identify the source.
While there is no cure for allergies, here are some tips to help control your symptoms:
- Remain indoors when pollen counts are at their highest. Ragweed pollens are usually highest in the morning, but to check your area, call the National Allergy Bureau at 1-800-9-POLLEN (1-800-976-5536) or visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website at www.aaaai.org.
- Keep windows and doors closed and use an air conditioner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
- Avoid doing yard work or wear a mask to prevent pollen and mold from reaching your nasal passages.
- If your child has allergies, schedule an appointment with the school nurse and teachers to discuss his or her triggers.
- Try using over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays to control your symptoms. If these offer no relief, call your doctor.
Meriter now offers allergy/immunology services at two of our clinic sites, Meriter DeForest-Windsor and Meriter Deming Way in Middleton. Please call 608.417.3300 for an appointment or visit meriter.com/allergy for more information.