Dealing with seasonal allergies once a year for several weeks at a time can put a big damper for a good chunk of your life with the usual symptoms of rhinitis, such as itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; and runny nose. Spring is the season most often associated with seasonal allergies, but double trouble comes in the form of fall allergies as well. And experts have pointed to 2019 as a good bet to be a particularly bad year for fall allergies. Health experts have been saying in recent weeks that much of America should brace itself for a rough allergy this fall, with the season having started in August and running well into November. What factors into this egregious equation has been rampant ragweed, no thanks to what has been hotter and wetter weather than usual across the nation in recent months. Such conditions create a perfect environment for ragweed-producing plants to grow in abundance, per webmd.com, which in turn causes the allergy season to last longer and with harsher conditions.
What Are Seasonal Allergies?Autumn, just like spring several months prior, can become a red-eyed, runny-nosed survival test, with plenty of cases also featuring long-lasting coughs thanks to all that drainage. All this is because of how your immune system responds to irritants such as ragweed, mold, and pollen, which become more plentiful in late summer. Your immune system goes to work fighting off these substances as a matter of trying to protect your body. In doing so, your immune system releases histamine, per prevention.com, which consequently produces all those nasty symptoms – which can also include headaches, hives or skin rashes, itchy throat, and aggravated asthma conditions, to include that wheezing or coughing we referred to earlier. Besides ragweed, the usual suspect sources also include goldenrod, sagebrush, mugwort, cocklebur, pigweed, tumbleweed, burning brush, and lamb's-quarters, per prevention.com. It is estimated that 23 sniffling, coughing Americans are especially susceptible to ragweed.
Quality of Life at StakePer pharmacytimes.com, any combination of those allergy symptoms can work together to affect a sufferer's quality of life. It can to the point where they also have to deal with fatigue, sleep disturbances (night-long draining can be especially miserable), and impaired focus, depending on the frequency and severity of symptoms. It's no fun for the grownups at work or for the afflicted kiddoes at school. Some antihistamine medicines can contribute to the fatigue and focus issues by inducing drowsiness on top of all that. Think about that before you get behind the wheel. Be careful out there.
How to Deal with Seasonal AllergiesOne thing about seasonal allergies: it is suggested that you start with the mindset of they are going to need to be allowed to run their course. That said, there are measures, supplements, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications you can take to help alleviate your symptoms and maybe even shorten their duration. First rule of thumb, though: see your doctor before starting any sort of regimen, and talk to your pharmacist about any medications you are buying, to include the OTC variety:
- Wear a face mask. We're referring to the type like what doctors or nurses wear – a breathable filtration mask that covers the nose and mouth. This is for when you are outdoors during allergy season, such as when raking leaves or even jumping into piles of them. This is to avoid breathing in mold spores, and leaves, especially wet ones, are inundated with mold spores.
- Use antihistamines. There are all kinds and they come in a variety of forms, per prevention.com, such as tablets, liquids, and nose sprays. Read the directions and warnings carefully. Some can raise your blood pressure. Talk to the pharmacist, or at least consult with your physician.
- Nasal corticosteroids or decongestants. These can help with that stuffy nose and restricted air passages. Decongestants can also be a no-no for those with hypertension. Again, talk to your doctor.
- Corticosteroid creams and ointments. These can help with those itchy skin rashes.
- Measures after being outdoors. If outside for an extended time at the height of allergy season, such as if you've been hiking, biking or gardening – throw your clothes into the washer once inside (don't putter around the house first); leave your shoes outside on the covered porch, patio or deck; and brush down or wipe your pet after walks. Pollen and allergens have a nasty habit of hitchhiking their way into your home, or at least clinging to you for that free ride.