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Quick question: Fall, love it or hate it? Or both? People who suffer from fall allergies no doubt love the fall colors and the festive time of year, while hating the sneezing, sniffling, wheezing and itching. So what's an autumn lover to do? Batten down the hatches and get ready for fall allergy season with the following tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
The early bird catches the allergy meds?
"The most important reminder we can give people is to start taking their fall allergy medication two weeks or so before symptoms usually begin," says allergist James Sublett, MD, ACAAI president-elect. You should also continue your medication for two weeks after the first frost. Because of nasal and eye symptoms associated with ragweed allergies, symptoms can linger after pollen is no longer in the air.
You can't run, but you can avoid
While it's impossible to completely escape pollen and molds, here are some other ways to lessen exposure.
- Keep windows closed and use air-conditioning, if possible. Automobile air conditioners help, too.
- Remember to change your home and auto air filters and replace them with high efficiency filters.
- Don't hang clothing outdoors to dry. Pollen may cling to towels and sheets.
- To avoid pollen, know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.
- Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn, raking leaves or gardening, and take appropriate medication beforehand.
Apple picking, pumpkin pie and food allergies?
As summer eases into fall, kids are back in school and adults start thinking about food-centric holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Holidays that focus on food might also involve food allergies. One of the challenging issues is that many people may think they have a food allergy when what they really have is food intolerance. Food intolerance can often mimic a food allergy, causing nausea and vomiting, but is not life-threatening. The best way to determine whether what you re experiencing is a food allergy is to see an allergist for testing. An allergist will help you develop an action plan to deal with whatever allergies or intolerances you may have.
Take a deep breath and get an asthma screening
Many people don't know that allergies and asthma go hand-in-hand, and that an allergy can trigger a life-threating asthma attack if the person is unaware they have one, or both, of these chronic illnesses. To help children and adults with symptoms of asthma and allergy know if they are at risk, allergists from around the country participate in the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. ACAAI offers free allergy and asthma screenings throughout the year. The screenings, sponsored by Teva Respiratory, take place at about 100 locations nationwide.A list of screenings can be found by visiting acaai.org/nasp. For those that may think they have allergy and asthma but cannot attend a screening, ACAAI offers free online tools, such as the Asthma and Allergies Symptom Test, MyNasalAllergyJournal and an Allergist Locator, to track symptoms and find a local board-certified allergist.