Coping with Fall Allergies: Tips for Alleviating Symptoms and Advice on when to Seek Help from an Allergies

Fatigue? Sneezing? Runny nose? Congestion? Itchy, watery eyes?

Sound familiar? If it does, you may be one of the more than 36 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).

Ragweed is one of the most common outdoor allergen people react to this time of year. Ragweed can grow almost anywhere, but is most commonly found in fields, along roadsides, and in vacant lots in the Northeastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States. Ragweed typically blooms between mid-August and October.

Unfortunately the pesky symptoms will stick around until the Ragweed plants in your area die off in October, usually around the time of the first frost.

In addition to ragweed pollen, there are several trees and grasses that begin pollinating in the fall and could be causing your symptoms. Trees that could trigger your symptoms include Cedar Elm, Chinese Elm, September Elm, and Eucalyptus. Grasses that could be affecting you include Pampas Grass, Fountain Grass, and Wild Mustard.

In addition the warm and moist conditions outdoors encourages the growth of outdoor molds. Gutters, soil, vegetation, rotting wood, and fallen leaves can all generate mold spores in the fall.

Depending on the severity of one’s allergies, symptoms can range from mild to debilitating. Even if your symptoms are mild they can impact one’s performance at work or school. According to the AAAAI, it is estimated that increased absenteeism and reduced productivity due to allergies cost U.S. companies more than $250 million.

One key way to alleviate symptoms is to avoid exposure to ragweed. Some easy things you can do to reduce your exposure include:

* Avoiding outdoor activity between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when pollen is at its peak and on days when pollen and mold spore counts are high. Visit the National Allergy Bureau for daily pollen and spore count information (http://www.aaaai.org/nab)

* Keeping the windows of your home and car closed to prevent pollen and mold spores from drifting in and use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.

* Taking a shower if you have spent several hours outdoors. When you spend a few hours outdoors, pollen grains and mold spores can accumulate on your skin, hair, and clothing.

* Avoid hanging sheets or clothing outside to dry where pollen and mold spores can collect on them.

If your symptoms are completely unbearable, you should see an allergist. Allergists are physicians specially trained to diagnose and treat allergies and can develop a targeted treatment plan that will better control or eliminate your symptoms.

In particular you should consider seeing an allergist when you:
* Have prolonged or severe symptoms, particularly if they interfere with your quality of life and ability to function.

* Have nasal polyps.

* Have another allergic condition such as asthma or sinusitis

* Experience itchy mouth from raw fruits or vegetables.

* Have found over-the-counter medications to be ineffective or dislike the side-effects they cause

* Are a child – allergies have been shown to lead to more sever allergic diseases such as asthma. Treating allergies now may prevent the development of asthma.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the advice of a physician.

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