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Self-Care

Fall Allergy Season Underway


Feel a sneeze coming on? Fall allergy season began Aug. 15 for most of the United States, say experts at the National Allergy Bureau, a non profit pollen and mold counting network of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

More than 35 million Americans are familiar with the sneezing, stuffy and itchy nose, red and swollen eyes, scratchy throat, headaches and drowsiness seasonal allergies cause. Though the Aug. 15th onset occurs nationally, experts predict the La Nina-driven drought plaguing the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Seaboard will have a slight impact on plants this fall, limiting growth and pollen production.

The plant most responsible for the onslaught of allergy symptoms is the pollen released from ragweed — a stubborn weed prevalent along road sides, vacant lots, fields and almost any other sunny spot. Ragweed blooms from mid-August to October and is most prevalent throughout the Northeast and Midwest, although some form of ragweed allergens are prevalent in all areas of the United States. Each ragweed plant produces one billion pollen grains per average season, and because they are especially small and light, can travel up to 400 miles.

The AAAAI recommends the following precautions for those who suspect they may have seasonal allergies:

  • Use an air conditioner and a dehumidifier to keep air clean, cool and dry.
  • Keep the windows closed in your home and car.
  • Avoid raking leaves and mowing.
  • If avoiding the outdoors is impossible, shoes and clothing worn outside should remain outdoors or be washed immediately in hot water.
  • Shower after spending extended periods of time outdoors. This will remove built up pollen from skin and hair.
  • Use large, waxy flowers like lilies and tulips to decorate your home. Their pollen is too heavy and sticky to enter the air and cause an allergic reaction.
  • Do not hang clothing or sheets outside to dry. They will collect pollen and mold.
  • Know the current pollen and mold counts in your area by calling 800-9-POLLEN or by visiting the NAB's Web site at http://www.aaaai.org/nab

If your symptoms don't improve with these measures, see your physician or allergist.

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing


© 2000 Health Resources Publishing