Fall allergies are nothing to sneeze at
We may be in the mosaic season of fall, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of allergies.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that the 2011 allergy season would be 27 days longer in the northernmost parts of North America, adding a month onto the season that typically lasts from February to October. To top it all off, weed allergies have experienced a recent uptick.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than half (54.6%) of all U.S. citizens test positive to one or more allergens, with allergic diseases affecting as many as 40 to 50 million Americans. What’s more, some allergic reactions can be triggered by air pollution, common household items, food and more.
But before you rub your itchy eyes and keep on coughing, know this: there are ways to take control over allergies. Take into consideration these tips from the St. Louis University Medical Center:
- Is it allergies or a cold/sinus infection? A few ways to tell is to start with such small steps as closing windows, changing air conditioning filters and limiting outdoor activities. Feel better? It’s a sign that allergies are at work, versus a cold or sinus infection. If you aren’t positive, check this post on Mayo Clinic’s website.
- Sure that you have an allergy issue? Head to the drug store for this next step. Did you know that popular allergy treatments like Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec are available without a prescription? The cost is less and the payoff is worth it. But if over-the-counter medicines don’t do the trick or if you find yourself missing out on outdoor activities, visit an allergist — prescription nasal sprays containing either steroids or antihistamines may be what you need. Heads up: Your allergist may do a skin prick test to hone in on your precise allergens if the source of your symptoms isn’t clear.
- If you continue to suffer, your allergist may recommend immunotherapy. This involves a series of shots that must be administered over the course of a few years to increase your body’s tolerance to the allergen, but the good news is that recipients reported improvements in symptoms within a few months after beginning treatment.
- Get a map. Arm yourself with allergy knowledge by visiting Weather.com, which offers an allergy forecast on its website and pools resources from allergy experts nationwide.
Tell us: Do you suffer from allergies in the fall? What types of symptoms do you have?