It’s that time of year where summer starts to taper off and fall temperatures gradually make their way in. Many of us look forward to these brisk, cool temperatures, particularly allergy sufferers, because this is the time when hay fever typically begins to subside. But if the change of seasons still has you sniffling and sneezing with no end in sight, you may have an allergy to ragweed.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction that occurs when the body’s immune system responds negatively to harmless substances, such as pollen and spores. Ragweed is particularly troublesome to hay fever sufferers in the fall, because it blooms from about August until November. As the pollen is released into the air, hay fever sufferers begin to experience sneezing, congestion, runny nose and itchy or watery eyes.
Because ragweed is found throughout the United States, avoiding it is practically impossible. However, hay fever sufferers can take steps to limit their exposure to ragweed pollen, which can help keep their symptoms under control.
Keep windows closed- It may be tempting to open up the windows and let the cool breeze flow through, but this allows pollen to settle in your house. Keep windows closed during the day, and only open them at night. Remember to keep the windows up on your vehicle as well.
Don’t cut your own grass- This is a great time to pass this job on to a family member or hire someone to help you out. Mowing the lawn while the pollen count is high increases your exposure to ragweed. This can also be troublesome if you have a grass allergy.
Dust with a damp cloth- Dusting regularly prevents pollen from collecting in your living space, but if you dust with a dry cloth, you’re stirring most of that pollen back into the air. Dust with a damp cloth to keep pollen from becoming airborne.
Vacuum frequently- Pollen can settle into your carpet, so be sure to vacuum regularly. Vacuums with a HEPA filter are particularly helpful in controlling exposure to air particles.
Know when to stay inside- Being outdoors while the pollen count is high is just setting yourself up for trouble. Try to remain indoors during the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., when pollen is usually highest. You can also check your local news or weather stations for the pollen count.
Taking steps to avoid allergen exposure can help greatly in controlling your symptoms, but if all else fails, you may want to consider medication. Mild symptoms can often be controlled through a non-sedating antihistamine. If your hay fever causes inflammation of the sinus and nasal tissues, a steroid nasal spray can be prescribed (Source: NHS). Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any allergy treatment regimen. Based on your symptoms and medical history, there may be certain guidelines or restrictions you need to follow.