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How to Beat Fall Allergies

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 09:41 AM


Even though plants are no longer blooming and the air is turning cooler, many allergy sufferers do not get a break in the fall months.
For some, autumn can be much worse than spring when it comes to the sneezing, itching, eye-watering symptoms associated with hay fever.
“There are more people who suffer from allergies in the spring, but those who have hay fever in the fall have symptoms that last much longer,” says Angel Waldron, senior communications manager at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to the pollen found in grass, trees, weeds, and mold. The most common source of pollen in the fall in North America is ragweed.
Each ragweed plant can release billions of grains of pollen, says Dr. Andy Nish, an allergist in private practice at the Allergy and Asthma Care Center in Gainesville, Ga. He notes that other common culprits in autumn include pigweed, dock, sorrel, cocklebur, and marsh elder.
When a sufferer comes into contact with an allergen, the mucus membrane in the sinus cavity swells as a result of the immune system releasing a flood of chemicals called histamines. Histamines trigger the familiar allergic reactions: sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and pressure headaches.
Experts say it’s important to start using antihistamines at the first sign of an allergic reaction. That way you may be able to avoid a full-blown attack.
Good over-the-counter options for the daytime are Allegra and Claritin, which seldom cause drowsiness, according to Dr. Nish. Zyrtec should be taken for night-time relief. There are also prescription antihistamines available.
Steroid nasal sprays are another weapon that can be used against congestion, says Beverly Hills ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Babak Larian. Nasal decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, however, should be used with caution if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma or urinary problems.
Here are other ways to fight the fall allergies:
• If you notice that you suffer when you turn on the heat for the first time in the fall, have your heating ducts cleaned. Particles of mold and other allergens can gather in the vents over the hot, humid summer and will fill the air when you crank up the furnace.
• Avoid raking leaves, which can stir up pollen – but if you must rake, wear a dust mask, which is available at hardware stores.
• Use HEPA air filters in rooms you spend the most time – perhaps your bedroom and office -- to reduce dust and pollen, suggests Dr. Nish.
• Try a device called a neti pot, which is used to flush the sinuses with a saline solution. They are available online or at health food stores.
* Keep your house and car windows closed during pollen season.
* Don’t dry your clothes outside on a wash line during pollen season.



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