Let’s Talk About Fall Allergies
I love this time of year! The leaves on trees are changing colors, the weather is cooling down and Fall is here. However, with the arrival of Fall comes the dreaded allergy season. Let’s talk about the lowdown of Fall allergies.
All About Allergies
What IS an allergy?
An allergy is the body’s hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Mold, dust, pollen, pet dander and even some foods can cause allergic reactions.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies are a reaction to small airborne substances. These allergens are small proteins that usually float around in the spring, summer and fall.
So, my never-ending cold may actually be allergies?
Yes. A cold will typically clear up pretty quickly, within 7-10 days. Allergies may last weeks or even months!
What is the best way to treat allergies?
The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen.
Colds or Flu vs. Allergies
Did you know that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies and don’t even know it?
That’s because many people confuse the symptoms of fall allergies with a common cold or the flu.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The main difference between a cold and allergies is that a cold is caused by a viral infection while allergy symptoms are caused by your body’s own immune system’s attempt to fight off an allergen.
- If your symptoms develop fast, it’s likely allergies. Allergy symptoms flare up as soon as you’ve come into contact with an allergen, whereas cold symptoms can take several days to develop.
- If you have a cough, it’s probably a cold. Most people with a cold will have a cough, but not everyone with allergies will have this symptom.
- Itchy eyes are a common symptom of allergies but RARELY occur with the common cold!
- The color of your mucus may indicate whether or not you have cold or the flu or if its just allergies. Green/yellow mucus can be a sign of a cold or flu. Mucus from allergies should be a clear liquid.
- One of the worst things about a cold is the fever that goes with it. If you have a fever, it’s not allergies – you’ve got a cold and if it lasts three to four days, it’s a good sign of the flu.
- If you’re aching all over, it’s probably a good sign of the flu, not allergies. Aches and pains are not symptoms of allergies or even most colds.
- How quickly did your symptoms arise? You are likely to feel flu symptoms suddenly, when allergy symptoms can worsen within a few days.
- Severe shortness of breath may seem like a symptom for allergies, but it is probably a sign of the flu.
What is the difference between spring and fall allergies?
It’s important to note that the symptoms for all allergies are the same, regardless of whether they present themselves in the spring or fall. Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, headache, sinus pressure are general allergy symptoms.
Outdoor allergens like tree pollens are likely to cause your spring allergies.
There are more allergy triggers in the fall. Typically, weed pollens, like ragweed and mold allergies are those that flare up come fall. Certain foods like bananas, melon and zucchini can also be a trigger for those allergic to ragweed.
Dust mites are a common allergen in the fall. When you start to close up your house when the weather gets cooler, old blankets and quilts could be hosting dust mites that can be an irritant.
Allergy Treatment and Relief:
How can I protect my family and myself?
Symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well.
So, how do I deal with allergies in the fall?
If you are struggling to feel well, see a healthcare provider. At MinuteClinic, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can recommend the right course of over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate. They can review your medical history, perform a physical exam, analyze your symptoms and decide on a treatment plan.
Limit allergen exposure. Stay indoors, especially on dry, windy days when pollen counts are high and ragweed is in the air. Run the air condition vs. opening the windows and letting allergens in the house A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attachment can help remove pollen from the air and help you breathe easier. Avoid raking leaves, especially when they ar wet and the likeliness of mold is high. Wear a face mask if you need to do yard work and take off your clothes and shoes when you come into the house.
Rinse your sinuses. Nasal irrigation – rinsing your sinuses to remove mucus and allergens from your nose – is a way to help ease congestion.
Try over-the-counter allergy medications. Many antihistamines – which can come in liquid, pill and eye drop form – are available without a prescription. They work to block histamine and relieve itchy noses and throats, sneezing, and watery eyes.
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How do you protect yourself and your family from Fall allergies?