Allergic rhinitis occurs seasonally or year-round. Diagnosis involves history-taking, examination of the nasal passages, and sometimes skin testing.
Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and red, watery, and itchy eyes.
Antihistamine medications can reduce symptoms.
· Perennial allergens are present throughout the year, with little variation. Seasonal allergens have distinct periods of time in which they are present in the environment in large quantities.
Plants typically pollinate in three seasons. The seasons vary in length as a much as in function. In the spring, trees pollinate. In the summer months, especially in early summer, grasses pollinate. Finally, in late summer and into fall, weeds pollinate.
Fall Allergies: Ragweed
One of the main contributors to spring allergies is the ragweed plant. A single plant can produce one billion pollen grains per season.
Ragweed grows abundantly and its lightweight pollen grains can travel up to 400 miles in the wind. Even if ragweed is not prevalent in your area, its pollen can travel hundreds of miles through the air, triggering fall allergy symptoms.
Ragweed pollen has a very distinct season from late summer to mid-fall. East of the Rocky Mountains, ragweed is the predominant cause of outdoor spring allergy symptoms.
Ragweed can be found growing in vacant lots, along the road, and in open fields. In areas with colder temperatures, the first frost usually occurs at about the time ragweed pollination ends. In Southern regions, ragweed may pollinate through the winter.
Outdoor molds are another cause of fall allergies. Mold doesn’t just grow in damp places inside the home; it also can grow outside in piles of wet leaves. Make sure to wipe your feet before going inside so that you don’t track mold or fall allergy carriers, such as leaves, into your home. They first appear in early spring, but thrive until the first frost.
They are common in soil, compost piles, and in the leaves that cover the ground during the fall. In temperate climates, mold spores form a distinct fall season in mid to late fall, after ragweed season is over. Mold spores are common airborne allergens. They are light, very small, and easily inhaled into the lungs. Spores rise high in the atmosphere during the warming of the day, falling back to the ground with the cool of evening.
Dust mites are tiny, white, insect-like creatures that measure less than a millimeter. You can only see them under a microscope. They have eight legs, which makes them an arthropod like a spider, but they lack eyes and a respiratory system. Unlike many bugs, they aren’t parasites, and they don’t sting, bite, or invade people’s bodies. They eat discarded human skin cells that settle into bedding, mattresses, curtains, and upholstered furniture
Moist or humid places, such as furnaces and air filters, are common hiding spots for dust mites that circulate when your heater kicks on. Always insert a clean air filter before turning on your furnace at the beginning of the season to help mitigate indoor allergies through fall and winter.
HOW TO GET RID OF DUST MITES IN YOUR HOME
As a good first step toward reducing the frequency and severity of allergic reactions, you can eliminate dust mites as much as possible by cleaning your home regularly. This strategy may help but remember it’s impossible to rid a house of dust mites. Here are some ways to reduce their presence in the home.
·ALLERGY PROOF YOUR BEDDING
Keep mattresses, comforters, and pillows inside zippered, dust-proof covers. Don’t forget the box springs. It should have an allergen-proof cover too.
·CLEAN YOUR BEDDING EACH WEEK
Wash everything — sheets, pillowcases, and blankets — in hot water at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This practice accomplishes the twin goals of killing dust mites and removing the allergens. If you can’t wash an item in hot water, put it in a hot dryer for 15 minutes or more to destroy the mites. Then wash the item and dry it as directed. If you can’t wash an item, freeze it for 24 hours to kill the dust mites (however, the allergens will remain).
Here are some other precautions you can take:
Use a face mask when you are outside, especially between 5 and 10 a.m. and on windy days.
Remove pollen from your skin and hair by showering frequently.
Keep your windows closed and turn on the air conditioner.
Dry your clothes inside in the dryer instead of hanging clothes outside.
Have decaying leaves removed from your yard and gutters.
If you rake leaves in the fall, wear a face mask.
When you first turn on your car air conditioner, leave your windows open and avoid breathing the air for several minutes until mold spores can disperse.
Don’t Suffer in Silence
If your symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, or itchy and watery eyes get worse in the fall, you probably have an outdoor fall allergy. Eighty percent of people with seasonal allergies complain about these symptoms as well as problems with sleeping, being tired, having poor concentration, and decreased productivity at school or work.
But treatment is available. Many people can be helped with modern medical treatments, if they would only complain to their doctors and get tested to detect possible allergies.
DUST MITE ALLERGY TREATMENTS AND MEDICATIONS
Even once you reduce the number of mites in your house, you may still have allergy symptoms. For anyone suffering from nasal allergy symptoms, one or more of the following treatments may help.
Use a neti pot or squeeze bottle with sterile saline (saltwater) rinse to help flush irritants and mucus from the sinuses.10
Antihistamines help stop itching, sneezing, and a runny nose by decreasing the body’s production of histamine, a compound the body releases during an allergic or inflammatory reaction.
Decongestants work by shrinking swollen tissue in the nasal passages, making it easier to breathe through the nose.