Summer is almost over and, in many areas of the country, the leaves will soon begin to turn. But that doesn’t mean you can put away your allergy medicine just yet.
Few are aware that seasonal allergies can be just as potent during the autumn months. Yet no matter when they strike, the symptoms are often the same: nasal congestion, watery eyes, runny nose and irritated sinuses.
Hay fever is mainly caused by the pollen spores of ragweed plants, which are found in large numbers in the Eastern and Midwestern areas of the country. Individuals who experience spring allergies often find their symptoms are triggered by ragweed as well. Another autumn allergy culprit: mold. Until temps dip into the freezing digits, mold spores maintain a prolific presence outdoors.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) releases an annual list of the top 100 cities plagued by problems with fall allergies. Coincidentally, the areas that ranked highest in 2012 included several popular mid-western metros:
1. Louisville, KY
2. Wichita, KS
3. Knoxville, TN
And the least troublesome cities for autumn allergies?
98. Stockton, CA
99. Portland, OR
100. Sacramento, CA.
The rankings were based not only on a region’s pollen prevalence, but also the ratio of allergy specialists to allergy suffers as well as the frequency of allergy medication usage in the area.
Handling hay fever
Depending on your individual triggers and overall sensitivity to dust and pollen, seasonal allergies can be bad, no matter where you live.
However, there are steps you can take to minimize hay fever’s effects on you and your family.
The crisp air (a welcome reprieve after the sweltering summer months) and the colorful foliage make fall an ideal time to be outside—just be sure to schedule your outdoor excursions for later on in the day. The early morning hours are when pollen is at its highest concentration in the air. Windy days often add to allergy woes, as they stir up additional pollen spores.
While there’s little you can do about mother-nature’s mucus-makers, the AAFA offers advice to help manage airborne irritants inside your home:
- Vacuum regularly-once or twice per week should be enough to keep dirt and dust particles to a minimum
- Dominate dust-preventing pile-ups of mail and other knick-knacks will make it easier to maintain dust-free tables and counter-tops
- Filter the air-dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help make the air in your home as irritant-free as possible.
- Keep the pollen outside-crisp fall breezes might be a welcome change of pace after a sweltering summer, but it will also invite allergens into your home. You’re better off closing the doors and windows and putting your air-conditioner on re-circulate.
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By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor