Allergy & Air on September 18, 2014 0 Comments Autumn days bring cooler temperatures that lure you outdoors. Along with the change in seasons comes a host of pesky airborne allergens just waiting to make you uncomfortable. If you experience sneezing and itchy eyes and ears, you may be a fall allergy sufferer. 4 Common Fall Allergens Known as rhinitis, seasonal allergies cause an inflammation of the nose’s mucous membranes. According to Harvard Medical School, rhinitis affects 10 to 30 percent of adults and about 40 percent of children, and is caused by airborne allergens. Here are the four most common culprits to suspect if you find yourself sneezing up a storm: 1. Ragweed: photo credit Notorious for causing allergy symptoms in 75 percent of spring-allergy sufferers, ragweed is a yellow-flowered weed that releases allergy-producing pollen from August through October. Ragweed grows nationwide but is most common in the Midwest and East. Because it’s a weed, it readily grows just about anywhere. And even if you don’t see the flowers, one plant can create one-billion grains of pollen, which can travel for hundreds of miles. 2. Mold: The cooler, often wetter days of fall bring the moist conditions in which mold thrives. Mold is a fungus that produces spores that travel through the air both indoors and out. Outdoor mold spores naturally occur in damp areas like compost piles and wet, fallen leaves. Indoors you’ll find mold in moist areas like the bathroom, kitchen and basement. Mold spores tend to stay active until temperatures fall significantly in the winter. 3. Dust Mites: They might be microscopic, but dust mites can wreak havoc on your nose. These pesky critters are year-round troublemakers, but they tend to appear in larger numbers in temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees and in moist conditions. Be sure to wash your bedding often, as dust mites are known to thrive in those areas. 4. Pet Dander: Though pets are no more allergy producing in fall than the rest of the year, it’s at this time when the weather cools that pets and are more likely to be indoors with you. It is estimated that as much as 30 percent of seasonal allergy sufferers also react to pet dander, and cats are twice as likely as dogs to cause allergies. How to Manage Fall Allergies No need to sniffle and itch your way through fall. Find some relief by trying the following tactics: 1. Use an Air Purifier Indoors Using an air purifier in your home is a great way to remove many potential allergens in the air. Not only will it improve your indoor air quality, but it’ll also help you breathe easier knowing that your air is a little more pure. An air purifier with a HEPA filter will remove a variety of common airborne fall allergens, including pollen, mold and other particulate matter. 2. Check Your Local Pollen Count Keeping tabs on the pollen count in your area helps you plan your days. If, for instance, you find that the pollen count will be high on a Saturday, postpone gardening chores until the following day. Also, avoid going outdoors during peak pollen count hours, which are typically in the morning and early afternoon, and keep your home and car windows and doors closed during those times. 3. Remove Shoes & Outerwear When Entering the Home If you’ve been exposed to an allergen while outside, the last thing you’ll want to do is bring it inside your home. To help you eliminate the possibility of tracking them inside, it’s recommended that you take off your jacket, shoes or any other clothing upon entering your home. 4. Clean Vents & Change Filters Before you turn on your heater for the winter, make sure you have changed your filter and thoroughly cleaned your vents. Doing this will help eliminate any allergens trapped in the vents and filter. If you don’t clean these areas, it’s possible that turning on your furnace will cause the system to spew allergens throughout your home. 5. Dehumidify If you’re allergic to mold and live in a moist climate, it is recommended that you use a dehumidifier to help control the moisture level in your home. Keeping the level of moisture down helps prevent mold from developing, which ultimately may help keep your allergy symptoms at a minimum. 6. Cover & Clean Bedding Your bedding is a magnet for dust mites, a common trigger for allergies. Help cut this down by encasing your mattress and pillowcases in dust-proof covers. Additionally, make sure you wash all of your bedding in hot water every week or so. Doing this will help kill off any dust mites that are accumulating in your comforter, sheets and pillows. 7. Dust Your Home Regularly Keeping the amount of dust in your home at a minimum not only makes your home a more comfortable place to be, but also helps improve your indoor air quality and reduces your allergy symptoms. If possible, try to wear a filtering mask while dusting. 8. Medications & Supplements Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may want to talk to your doctor about possible medications and supplements you could take to help you get relief. Your doctor can share ways to help you control your allergies, including steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines, eye drops, decongestants, immunotherapy and other natural remedies. Due to the possibility of side effects and contradictions, it’s wise to discuss all options with your doctor before you take anything new. 9. Keep Your Pets Fresh & Clean To keep dander and other pet-related allergens at a minimum, make sure your furry friends are given bathes often. This is especially important if your pets spend a lot of time outdoors. Also, avoid putting litter boxes or pet bedding near air vents, as this may pick up dander and spread it throughout your home. Another tip that may be hard for some, is to keep your furry loved ones off your furniture. Keep these allergy management tips in mind, and you can enjoy all of the wonderful activities fall has to offer without all the sniffling and sneezing.