Autumn is a time of year that most people associate with the beautiful colors of changing leaves and the cool, crisp air that brings relief after months of summertime heat. It is a time for bonfires and back-to-school preparations. A season to be relished.
Unfortunately, many people have also come to associate autumn with something far less pleasant: seasonal allergies. Fall allergies can put a damper on an otherwise beautiful time of the year—causing runny, itchy noses and red, swollen eyes. (Not to mention coughing, sneezing, congestion, and an all-around feeling of fatigue and frustration!)
Fortunately, there are options. For many, allergy medication may be the answer. For others, de-humidifiers, probiotics, steam therapy, and exercise can help control symptoms. Lots of people combine two or more of the solutions listed above. And any allergy sufferer can benefit enormously from simply limiting exposure to the allergens that cause them issues.
Limiting exposure is sometimes easier said than done. In many cases, this is simply due to the fact that many allergy sufferers do not know what is causing their symptoms! Here are four potential culprits:
- There are thousands of plants and weeds that can potentially cause allergic reactions—yet ragweed alone is responsible for more than half of all fall allergy cases in the United States. This pesky little plant tends to pollenate between August and September in most parts of the country, and can continue pollinating all winter long in areas without frequent frosts. Ragweed is an extremely potent allergen, making it difficult to avoid: a single plant can produce up to a billion spores, and these spores can be carried over four hundred miles by the wind! The best way to approach a ragweed allergy is to monitor pollen counts (available online and on most news sources) and to have a plan for when allergy attacks inevitably occur.
- Other plants and weeds. Goldenrod, curly dock, lamb’s quarters, pigweed, sheep sorrel, and sagebrush are a few other noteworthy plant-related causes of allergy symptoms. Allergies related to these plants have a similar solution to allergies caused by ragweed: limit outdoor exposure on days that are particularly troublesome; and be prepared to treat your allergy symptoms with medication or other forms of therapy as-needed.
- Many people associate mold problems with basements, attics, crawlspaces, and other dark, damp, secluded parts of the house. But mold can—and does—grow outdoors as well. The damp undersides of fallen leaves, the hollows of old trees, and the outside walls of houses and garages all provide excellent places for mold to grow—especially in autumn. Keeping your yard raked is a good way to limit your exposure to such molds, which, left unchecked, can cause negative reactions in many people.
- Dust Mites. Dust mites—much like mold—can cause trouble at all times of the year. However, they tend to be especially bothersome during the fall. Dust mites frequently fill the ventilation systems of homes as they are left unused during the warm summer months. When the cool temperatures of autumn roll around and the heating system is activated, therefore, dust mites can be spread throughout the house. The best solution to this is to have your ventilation system cleaned by a professional at the end of each summer.
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