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.
Many people suffer from hay fever and try to "wait it out," hoping to get by with over-the-counter drugs, or by staying inside until the season, the environment, or something, changes. For many others, the cause of their problem is not just seasonal: "It's always there."
If you are already suffering, it is probably mold allergy. Mold is a very real problem in the Midwest due to moisture, humidity and lots of trees, grass and weeds. Mold is particularly bad during the summer and fall with all the heat and humidity. It changes even more frequently that the pollen seasons of spring, summer and fall. There is a different mold that releases spores almost every week. They are everywhere because of their small size and float for hundreds of miles even if you do not live at the lake or nearby fields of hay.
Ragweed will start to pollenate mid-August and peaks usually on Labor Day. It often stays around until the first hard freeze of winter and is really bad if we have an Indian Fall with high heat and humidity. Each ragweed plant can release more than a million pollen grains and blow on the breeze especially later in the day. If you want to minimize your exposure to ragweed during the season, try doing your outdoor work or exercise in the morning hours.
You can select from many different medications, but the most effective are probably the over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays. They work best if used every day for the season. Even better, you might seek an allergy evaluation by a board-certified allergist.
Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, often are caused by exposure to pollen. You can reduce your exposure to pollen by:
The following home treatment measures may help relieve your symptoms:
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.