Still sniffling and sneezing? Many people associate allergies with spring and summer flowers, but there are several reasons why some of us may continue to experience these symptoms during the cooler months. Allergies can be caused by various environmental triggers such as ragweed pollen that can persist until October, mold from damp leaves and wet basements, and dust mites. Keep reading to learn more about allergies, their causes, and ways to alleviate your symptoms.

What are allergies?

According to the Mayo Clinic, an allergic reaction occurs when your body comes into contact with a foreign substance called an allergen (pollen, bee venom, etc.). Your body identifies this substance as harmful, even when the threat is minor. When you encounter that allergen again, your body reacts to it with allergy symptoms.

Symptoms

Allergy symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the particular sensitivity. Some common symptoms include: itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; runny nose; and congestion. These symptoms may seem like a cold, but allergy and cold symptoms differ in two respects. Colds generally include a fever, whereas allergies do not, and colds generally last 7-10 days while allergy symptoms may be present for an entire season.

Reducing Allergy Symptoms

Here are 9 steps you can take to reduce allergy symptoms:

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling, and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • After spending time outside, take a shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair and put on clean clothes.
  • Wear a face mask if you do outside chores.
  • Start taking over-the-counter antihistamines when high pollen counts are forecasted even before your symptoms start.
  • Use air conditioning in your house and car.
  • Use high-efficiency air filters and change them frequently.
  • Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
  • Clean floors frequently with a vacuum cleaner.

Treatment

If your seasonal allergies are usually mild, nasal sprays and oral antihistamines can help manage the symptoms. However, your body may eventually build up tolerance to an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. If OTC treatments don’t reduce your symptoms, it may be time to talk with a physician. You may need a prescription or other treatment.

By following these tips, being aware of your allergens, and seeing a doctor you can continue enjoying the great outdoors with everyone else this fall.


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