Fall Allergy Season Starts Now

August 16, 2018

Sure, it doesn’t feel like fall, but mild temperatures mixed with rain equals plant and pollen growth – and lots of it. Yes, fall allergies are upon us.

“Aug. 15 is not only the start of school, but also the start of fall allergy season," said Dr. Ann Hennessey with Mercy Kids. "It has to do with the daylight ratio that changes after the summer solstice. It's just enough to germinate some of those pollens."

About 1 in 6 Americans (17 percent) suffer from seasonal allergies, making them the fifth most common chronic disease in the United States. 

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny, stuffy or itchy nose
  • Temporary loss of smell
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Dark circles under the eyes ("allergic shiners")
  • Drainage from the nose down the back of the throat (postnasal drip)
  • Sore throat or coughing
  • Snoring

How can you help prevent seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, often are caused by exposure to pollen. You can reduce your exposure to pollen by:

  • Keeping your house and car windows closed
  • Limiting the time you spend outside when pollen counts are high (during midday and afternoon)
  • Wearing a pollen mask or dust mask if you need to mow the lawn
  • Limiting your mowing tasks if you can
  • Rinsing your eyes with cool water or saline eyedrops to remove clinging pollen after you come indoors
  • Taking a shower and changing your clothes after you work or play outside

How can you treat seasonal allergies?

The following home treatment measures may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Clean the inside of your nose with salt water to clear a stuffy nose.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom and take hot showers to help clear a stuffy nose.
  • If your nose is red and raw from rubbing, put petroleum jelly on the sore area.
  • Use over-the-counter allergy medicine to help your symptoms. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • To relieve a stuffy nose, use a steroid nasal spray (such as Nasacort). A steroid nasal spray also can help with red, itchy, watery eyes.
  • Another way to relieve a stuffy nose is a nasal or oral decongestant (such as Afrin or Sudafed PE). Decongestants may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems.
  • For itchy and/or watery eyes, sneezing or a runny, itchy nose, try a nonsedating, over-the-counter antihistamine, like fexofenadine (such as Allegra) or loratadine (such as Claritin). Other antihistamines, like chlorpheniramine (such as Chlor-Trimeton) and diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl), are less expensive but can make you feel sleepy or tired. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
  • To help relieve pain, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

If your symptoms still bother you, ask your doctor about prescription nasal antihistamines. Or ask if immunotherapy might help you. For this treatment, you get allergy shots or use pills that have a small amount of certain allergens in them. Your body "gets used to" the allergen, so you react less to it over time. This kind of treatment may help prevent or reduce some allergy symptoms.

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More Allergy Resources

Media Contacts

Bethany Pope
St. Louis, St. Charles
Page: (314) 251-6000