Are you among the millions of Americans sniffling and sneezing your way into fall? We spoke with experts at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to find out what’s going on during autumn, allergy-wise, that may be contributing to your miserable state, as well as what you can do to feel better.
A: There are plenty of people who suffer from fall allergies and not spring allergies, and vice versa. Some unlucky folks are subject to both. What’s more, frequency and severity of symptoms can change from season to season or year to year.
If you’re having symptoms that indicate allergies, such as runny or stuffy nose; sneezing; itchy, red or watery eyes; or wheezing and coughing, it’s important to get properly diagnosed by your personal clinician or an allergy specialist.
A: If symptoms similar to a cold or cough persist for more than five to seven days and happen every year around the same time, they may be due to an allergy instead of a cold or the flu.
A: Most likely, it’s ragweed pollen. There are 17 different ragweed species here in the U.S. that could be getting you down, with the highest concentrations in rural eastern states and the Midwest—hay fever central. It also doesn’t help that during the fall, the days get shorter and cooler, sending more people inside, where dust, mold and mildew can affect allergies, too.
A: Be proactive. Visit your personal physician or allergy specialist in the summer to avoid the fall allergy-suffering crowds, and get a plan to address your symptoms before they kick in. Your doctor may suggest over-the counter antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, prescription pills or maybe even allergy shots, if the medications don’t provide enough relief.
A: Absolutely. Avoid airborne allergens of all kinds, including mold, dust mites, pet dander and other common culprits. Take off outer layers as soon as you come in from gardening or enjoying the outdoors, and put those clothes in the wash right away.
Regularly clean and de-clutter living and working spaces—cluttered environments provide plenty of spaces for dust and other allergens to gather. And carefully select cleaning products, since many contain strong fragrances, bleach, ammonia and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), all of which can make respiratory allergy and asthma symptoms worse.