Allergies are common in the US for people having reactions to many substances and dealing with flare-ups at specific times of the year. Statistics show that 5.2 million children and 19.2 million adults deal with hay fever (or allergic rhinitis). Hay fever has many triggers, but for a lot of people, specific environmental factors cause it to pop up in certain seasons.
And now that we’re in the fall, those allergens are back, so you need to find ways to manage these frustrating allergic reactions. Let’s look at some practical tips by examining their causes, the common allergens you can expect this fall, and how to reduce and avoid allergic reactions.
An allergic reaction is the result of your immune system overreacting. This reaction occurs when you get exposed to specific substances (called allergens) that your body interprets as a threat and produces antibodies to fight it. When the antibodies attempt to remove the allergen, it releases chemicals called histamines that cause your allergic symptoms.
Many people are allergic to harmless substances, like pet dander (dead skin cells of your pets) and urine, many foods, dust, molds, and insect bites.
Pollen, an avid source of sneezing, itching, runny nose, coughing, and other allergy symptoms, is among the most common allergies in the fall. While people deal with pollen in the spring, in the fall, it comes from a plant known as ragweed, which produces up to 1 billion grains of pollen in that season. It blooms in August but creates allergic misery for people throughout the fall.
Other sources of allergic angst include mold that not only grows on damp, fallen leaves and compost piles but also thrives indoors (in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements). Dust mites also thrive in fall weather. Pet dander can be a big problem in the fall, as many animals shed their fur around this time.
Here are some simple ways to reduce allergy triggers:
Often, local newspapers and news websites provide daily reports on the pollen count in your area, and with that information, you can determine whether it’s safe to spend any time outside. If you do go out on a heavy pollen day, wear a painter’s mask or one that can filter the pollen to reduce triggering a reaction.
Since fallen leaves potentially carry mold that triggers flare-ups, clearing them frequently can help reduce the chances of dealing with that trigger. Also, clear leaves from gutters and other areas where they collect.
Air vents can collect many allergens, such as mold, dust mites, and pet dander, so keeping them clean can make a world of difference in the house.
Cleaning your pets regularly can reduce the number of dead skin cells in the environment, which results in less animal dander affecting you. Keeping pets off furniture can also help, and vacuuming places where they often spend time.
Using a humidifier (keeping the air at 35-50% humidity) can help, especially in basements that often have poor air circulation.
In addition to cleaning pets and areas they frequent, any places where allergens are likely to be present, like basements, bathrooms, and kitchens, should be as clean as possible to reduce the chances of flare-ups.
These are just a few tips you can use to keep yourself allergen free, but they can make a big difference. If you’re still dealing with flare-ups and need help managing them, make an appointment with Dr. Okafor and Sugarland Primary Care Physicians today.