by Kimberly Allen RN
Many people I talk to have been thrilled with the warm weather we’ve had this year, however those who suffer with fall allergies may not be so thrilled as the fall allergy season begins. Over 35 million people in the US are affected by seasonal allergies, which includes fall allergies, at a cost of over $7 billion in lost productivity alone that’s not counting the amount of money that is spent every year on over the counter and prescription medications to get allergy relief.
Most people think of spring as allergy season, with all the trees and flowers blooming, however many people suffer with fall allergies and many experts believe this year is going to be a bad one for fall allergy sufferers. Experts say that the high temperatures have lead to plants producing more pollen – many plants have produced 3-4 times more than normal. Many experts believe that means ragweed season will be at least a month longer extending into November. Ragweed is the most common fall allergy though there are others . Dust mites, though more prevalent in the summer, tend to get active when you start your furnace in the fall. Many furnaces have been made to burn cleaner which has reduced the level of dust and dust mites that are going into the air, but there are more people burning wood for heat with fuel prices so high so that increases the dust mite population. There are also other plants in different parts of the country like goldenrod, pigweed, curly dock, sheep sorel, sagebush and lamb’s quarters that all can cause fall allergies. The goldenrod is usually in bloom at the same time as ragweed, however because it is insect pollinated instead of wind pollinated, it doesn’t affect as many people as ragweed does.
Mold is another common allergen. It thrives in moist, damp areas whether indoors or out and their spores are easily made airborne. Outdoor molds begin in spring and last through until frost and many experts feel that with the warm weather frost will come later this year. Outdoor molds are everywhere, in the soil, in the leaves on the ground and in compost piles. Another common place for mold that many people don’t think about is the wood pile. Then when you rake up those leaves don’t just leave the piles sitting there for mold spores to breed, get them cleaned up right away.
With the increase in spore production the windy days of this fall are going to be more miserable for fall allergy sufferers. So one of the best ways to limit your allergic response to the pollen is to wear a mask on windy days as well as in the morning between 5-10 in the morning, Wear a light weight wind breaker type outer jacket that can be removed when you go inside instead of outside on the clothes line. Also, when you’re outside doing yard work, like raking leaves or working around the wood pile, wear a mask.
Eighty percent of allergy sufferers complain of the runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes of allergies which then leads to having trouble sleeping and always feeling tired which in turn causes poor concentration and reduced productivity at work, home or school. However today, with the improvement in medical technology, there are improved medications available to treat allergies without the problem of drowsiness. In the past, many people suffered with their symptoms because the medications available to treat them made them drowsy. Today, not only are there medications available that to treat allergy symptoms without the side effect of drowsiness, there are also medications available that target specific allergens. If you suffer from allergies, see your Dr and get tested to determined what allergen is causing your symptoms. Once your Dr has been able to determine what allergen is causing your symptoms you can discuss a more targeted plan of care.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.