You might think that seasonal allergies only come around in the spring. But that’s not true! They can be just as bad in the fall, especially here in the South.
Why, you might wonder? Well, it’s because most people who have seasonal allergies in the spring, reacting to certain pollens, have a similar reaction to ragweed in the fall. Unfortunately, ragweed blooms in abundance during our Tennessee autumns, and that means your allergy symptoms may be in full bloom too.
But lest you think you’re doomed to have a constantly runny nose this fall, think again! There are simple steps you can take to help prevent hay fever and other fall allergies and that will help you find relief.
What Is Ragweed?
Ragweed is the biggest allergy problem in the fall — far and away the primary reason for fall allergies, also called “hay fever.” But what IS ragweed?
As its name says, ragweed is a weed. In fact, it’s a flowering yellow weed that you’ve probably seen around in the late summer and fall. It technically blooms in August, but won’t stir up your allergy symptoms until the first freeze of the year kills the entire plant.
Why is it so pesky? One ragweed plant produces up to 1 billion grains of pollen each season. That’s a whole lot of allergen flying through the air!
And if you find yourself affected by ragweed, you are not alone. Up to 75% of spring allergy sufferers also react to ragweed.
How Can I Prevent Fall Allergies?
Your best bet at preventing fall allergies is to completely avoid ragweed pollen. But that’s unlikely! Still, you can limit your exposure to it with these tips:
- Pay attention to the pollen count. You’ve probably heard the “pollen count” mentioned on the local news. They generally give the count for different allergens, including ragweed. You’ll want to listen for that pollen count—and on the days that it is particularly high, try to stay indoors as much as possible.
- Keep the windows and doors closed. We know, opening the windows is a rite of passage when the temperatures finally cool off in Tennessee during the fall. But if you’re plagued by allergy symptoms, that may be doing more harm than good. So try to keep your home and car windows closed, relying on the HVAC unit and fans for airflow instead. This will keep the ragweed pollen outside, where it belongs.
- Clean off pollen when you come inside. Once you’ve come inside for the evening, take steps to remove the ragweed pollen from your clothing, shoes, and hair. Your best bet is to leave your shoes outside or just inside the door to avoid tracking in pollen. Shower and change clothing when you’re in for the night, so that you can wash any leftover pollen off your skin and hair. You’ll want to do the same for your pets.
- Change your air filter regularly. When’s the last time you changed out the air filter in your home? If you can’t remember, it’s time to change it! These should be changed every few months, depending on the packaging instructions—and more often if you have allergies. When the filter isn’t clean, pollen and debris-filled air can be flowing through your home.
- Protect yourself before heading outdoors. You may have outside chores, like raking leaves, on your to-do list. Try to steer clear of those on days the pollen count is high. But on days where the count is average, take another step toward fall allergy prevention by taking a dose of an oral antihistamine. This preventive dose should help protect you against any ragweed lurking in the air.\
Not sure if your symptoms are the result of fall allergies, a cold or the flu? Time for a doctor’s visit! Find one here.