The colors are beginning to change, and the temperature is dropping, which means fall is in full swing. Unfortunately, that also means that allergies are running rampant. As an allergist and clinical immunologist for both children and adults, Dr. Jose Arias is an expert when it comes to managing a wide array of allergy symptoms. He shared his tips for enduring the ever-worsening allergy season so that you can enjoy your pumpkin spice and apple picking in peace.  

Get Allergy Tested.

Anyone who suspects they have allergies should discuss getting tested with their healthcare provider. Though many allergy medications are available over the counter, you may be suffering needlessly if what you pick up from the pharmacy does not treat what you are allergic to. Your test results will not only confirm what you are allergic to, but they can also help you determine when you are most likely to be affected and what treatments will work best for you. 

For fall, the main allergy is ragweed. This very strong allergen can affect your nose, throat and eyes. And if you have chronic lung disease such as asthma or COPD, exposure to ragweed can worsen your respiratory symptoms. Allergy seasons are also getting longer. We are seeing pollen that we used to encounter just in February and March, also present in December. 

Check Pollen Levels Daily.

Most people have access to a local weather app or can check the National Allergy Bureau online to see how high the pollen count is each day. If your allergies are severe, spending less time outdoors on dry, windy days may be a good idea. Before spending any time outdoors, I always suggest checking the pollen level. If pollen is high, you will want to take an antihistamine one hour before exposure. Pollen can also get in your eyes, so using eye drops and wearing glasses can ease symptoms as well. 

When the weather is nice, it is common to want to open all the windows and enjoy it. Unfortunately, this lets pollen inside, where it is likely to settle and bother you continuously. A simple fix is to keep your windows closed during high pollen days that impact your health. 

It should be noted that there are several indoor allergens, like dust, mold, cockroaches and pet dander, that may affect you. Airing out your home to keep the levels of these allergens down may make you more inclined to open windows, but keeping them closed and running an air cleaner is the best way to keep your indoor air healthy. 

Always Take Your Allergy Medication.

Many allergy medications and nasal sprays that used to be prescription are now available over the counter. If fall is your peak allergy season, you may need to do a combination of medications, eye drops and nasal sprays. Some people may need allergy medication daily, while others may only need it a few times a week. Consult your healthcare provider to work out a system that will help you to best manage your symptoms. 

If you feel like your medication is not providing enough relief, or you need to use medication year-round, an allergist may suggest another course or treatment like allergy immunotherapy. Allergy immunotherapy is an in-office injection treatment that can help you build resistance or tolerance to the allergen. This is just one example of advanced treatment options that may be available, which is another reason why getting allergy tested by your healthcare provider is so important. 

Keep Your Indoor Area as Clean as Possible.

Top indoor allergens and any allergens that enter the home through open windows can be minimized by dusting and vacuuming frequently. No matter what you are allergic to, the goal is to limit exposure. 

If you have been outside for a walk or gardening, you likely have pollen on your clothes, skin, and hair.  Consider placing your clothes directly in the washing machine to limit the pollen distributed throughout your house.  Also, take a shower and wash your hair prior to going to bed.  This will limit the amount of pollen that gets onto your pillow and bedding, further reducing your exposure during the night.

Dust mites and mold thrive in hot, humid environments, so running a dehumidifier can help decrease the humidity, eliminating those allergies in your home. In addition, you can encase your mattresses and pillows and wash your bedding weekly in hot water. 

Fans can be another major dust and pollen spreader, so you should use them sparingly. Running a fan consistently can create an allergen storm, which you may breathe in as you sleep. Instead, consider using an air conditioner with a HEPA air filter. For extra protection, running a portable air cleaner can further prevent dust and pollen from circulating throughout your home. 

Want to see for yourself?

Dr. Arias suggests using a flashlight at night and shining it from one corner of the room to the other as the fan runs. You will actually be able to see particles flying through the air.

If you are allergic to pet dander, you will want to designate safe zones, or places where pets are allowed and places where they aren’t. For instance, I normally suggest that people with pet allergies keep their pets out of beds and bedrooms. This is especially important during high shedding seasons, which is commonly during the fall and spring. 

People with asthma, or another chronic lung disease may be more susceptible to severe reactions during allergy season.

Get more advice about how to stay safe this season.
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