Fall pollen allergies are primarily caused by ragweed, and although these pesky plants only live for one season, they’re incredibly potent pollen producers. One ragweed plant can send up to one billion pollen grains into the air, and its pollen can float for miles, making many people miserable with allergy symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a nagging itch in their nose and eyes.
Here at Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California, we help many patients overcome allergies. After thorough testing to determine their exact allergens, Dr. Ulrike Ziegner develops a customized plan to provide optimal relief.
To help you get started down the path to allergy relief, here are our top four tips for managing fall pollen allergies:
Start medication in the summer
Even though they’re called fall pollen allergies, these seasonal allergies begin before fall does. Ragweed pollen fills the air in early August and typically lasts through November, which makes for a long fall allergy season.
If you start taking anti-allergy medications several weeks before the pollen season begins, you’ll reduce the severity of your symptoms. You may get by with over-the-counter antihistamines, depending on the severity of your fall pollen allergy; however, prescription medications are stronger and some have a different mechanism of action that may provide better relief.
Schedule an appointment in July for an evaluation and to talk about the medication that will work best for you.
Watch the pollen count
The best strategy for managing fall allergies is to avoid pollen whenever possible. A good way to do that is by checking the pollen count every day and planning your activities based on the air quality.
Online weather sites are good sources of information about the pollen. Just like a weather forecast, they show the predicted pollen count for the upcoming week, so you can plan accordingly.
Limit your time outdoors on days when the pollen count is high. Pollen is also highest in the morning and on dry, windy days, so plan to be outside late in the afternoon or after a heavy rain when the pollen count is down.
If you’re not already taking anti-allergy medications on a regular schedule, take them before you go outside. Wearing sunglasses (or regular eyeglasses) and a hat with a wide brim can also help to keep pollen out of your eyes.
Reduce pollen inside your home
Keeping your house pollen-free is another key strategy for reducing allergy symptoms. You can keep pollen outside by keeping your windows closed and running your air conditioning.
For central air conditioning, replace the filters every three months and use high-efficiency filters with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) of 11 to 13. With this rating, the filter will catch pollen without blocking airflow.
After spending time outside, your shoes and clothing carry pollen into the house. Leave your shoes just inside the door, toss your clothes in the washing machine, then shower to remove the pollen.
Review your allergy history
Think about your allergy symptoms last fall and in the years before. How bad were they? Have your symptoms become worse with each passing year?
If you were miserable last fall or you can see a trend of worsening allergies, this may be the year to start immunotherapy to desensitize your immune system and diminish your allergic reactions.
You’ll get some allergy relief in the first 3-6 months of immunotherapy, but it can take 12 months to reach optimal results. In other words, if you start this September, you’ll get a small amount of relief this season and you’ll be in good shape next fall.
When you need help with allergy symptoms, call Riviera Allergy Medical Center or book an appointment online.