Fall Allergies (But It’s Only August!)

As I walked outside yesterday I felt the pounding in my temples, the pressure in my cheeks, that feeling in my nose and the itchy, itchy eyes… “It can’t be! It’s only August!” If your allergies are like mine, you might have had the same conversation with yourself recently.

Each year as the flower pollen finally leaves, another pollen hits the stage: ragweed. And guess what month this yellow flowering weed begins pollinating… yep, August. Even if this little guy isn’t growing where you live, its pollen can travel hundreds of miles on the wind.

Another allergy culprit is mold. With easily airborne spores, it thrives in damp places, inside or out. So whether it’s those damp leaves in the yard or the puddles collecting in your basements and bathrooms (ahem, 803-755-9774), your allergies might be mold-related.

Let’s not forget dust while we’re on the subject of common allergen. Dust particles are extremely prevalent during humid summer months, but when you turn your furnace on for the first time they make a reappearance.

If you’ve got allergies, you know the drill: runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing (I’ve heard two different coworkers sneeze since I began writing this article), coughing, itchy eyes and nose, and those dark circles under the eyes. (WebMD has a one-minute video on distinguishing between colds and ¬†allergies if you’re unsure.) Particularly for those who suffer from asthma, allergies can be far more than a slight annoyance. There are many medications that can help relieve the symptoms, but there’s also a lot you can be doing. Consider easing fall allergies in the following ways:

  • Stay indoors with windows and doors shut while pollen is at its peak (10 am – 3 pm) to avoid being exposed to your allergy triggers. Keep track of the pollen count in your area by visiting the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website.
  • Before you turn on your furnace for the first time of the season, have your heating ducts cleaned (remember to get those ducts in a row). Particles of mold and other allergens often get trapped in the vents over the summer and will soon be released when you crank the heat.
  • Use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your heating system to get rid of pollen, mold, and other particles in the air.
  • Use a humidifier to keep your air between 35 and 50% humidity.
  • Wear a mask while raking leaves to avoid inhaling mold spores. Masks are valuable while doing any activities that you know aggravate your allergies (mowing the grass, cleaning the house, etc.)
  • Bathe your pets. Seriously, if you have pets that visit both the indoors and outdoors, they are pollen carriers too. Try washing them once a week (or even more often) to remove the pollen from their fur.
  • Purchase a neti pot. This is a small container filled with warm salt water used to flush nasal passages, which can temporarily relieve allergy symptoms.
  • Clean with dust-trapping cloths. Using a feather duster is cute, but you’re just moving dust and pollen around. Instead try an electrostatic dust cloth, which traps dust and some allergens in the cloth. If your allergies are so bad that cleaning seems an impossible task, maybe it’s time to hire a professional (hint hint).
  • And my personal favorite, drink peppermint tea. If the deliciousness of this hot beverage isn’t enough to inspire you to get drinking (I’m sure you’ve got a steaming cup right now, what am I saying?), then how about the essential oil that acts as a decongestant? Substances in peppermint contain anti-inflammatory and mild antibacterial properties as well. Added benefit of drinking it hot: the steam provides relief from clogged noses.

But don’t take my word for it.

Sandy Hayden

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