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Noyes Health / About Noyes / News / Article

Allergy Season Is Upon Us

Thursday, April 21, 2016

It has started.  Folks are rubbing their eyes, sneezing, and grabbing the tissues. Allergy season is here - an annual occurrence of plentiful pollen and mold that for some people triggers an allergic reaction.  According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), approximately 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Those allergies can range from foods and additives to trees and plants.  This time of year many suffer from allergic rhinitis, often called hay fever.  It is a common condition in the spring and summer months that causes symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, watery eyes and itching of the nose, eyes or the roof of the mouth.  

In spring, the allergens floating around tend to be from tree pollens. Summer brings the grass and weed pollens, and fall finds the ragweed in full bloom. If you are suffering all season, you may have sensitivity to all these plant pollens. Mold is another common outdoor allergen. It can be found in rotting logs, hay, mulches, commercial peat moss, compost piles and leaf litter. Not good news for sneezing, snuffling, suffering gardeners out there. This allergy is usually worse during rainy weather. In addition, all these outdoor allergies can be made worse by windy conditions and humidity.

Treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis varies from person to person.  Some find relief with over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops, and nasal sprays.  Other allergy sufferers find that a trip to the doctor’s office is well worth the effort, as there are some treatments available by prescription that can significantly relieve the symptoms.  Before starting any course of treatment, speak with your physician and pharmacist as some allergy medications, both OTC and prescription, can negatively interact with other medications.  

Besides medications, there are practical things you can do to limit your exposure to pollens and molds.  The ACAAI recommends the following:

  • Keep windows closed at night to keep those allergens out. If you have air conditioning, better to use it as it cleans, cools, and dries the air. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider purchasing a unit just for the bedroom.  

  • Keep your car windows closed.

  • Take any prescribed allergy medicines per physician instructions even if you are feeling better on any given day.

  • If at all possible, have someone else mow grass or rake leaves as these activities stir up molds and pollens tremendously; or wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing outdoor chores.  Be sure to take appropriate medication beforehand.

Keep windows closed at night to keep those allergens out. If you have air conditioning, better to use it as it cleans, cools, and dries the air. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider purchasing a unit just for the bedroom.  

Keep your car windows closed.

Take any prescribed allergy medicines per physician instructions even if you are feeling better on any given day.

If at all possible, have someone else mow grass or rake leaves as these activities stir up molds and pollens tremendously; or wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing outdoor chores.  Be sure to take appropriate medication beforehand.

  • Avoid line drying your clothes and bedding as pollens and mold spores can collect on the fabric.

  • Eliminate indoor plants if you are allergic to mold.  Damp soil harbors mold.

  • Limit exposure on mornings that are especially warm and dry or days that are dry and windy as these will usually be high pollen count days.

  • Minimize touch with items that have come in contact with pollen, such as pets and people that have spent a large amount of time outdoors.

  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, and in severe allergy cases, wear a facemask when daily pollen counts are extremely high.

  • If you’re traveling, check allergy forecasts for your destination.

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts via newspaper, radio, or internet reports.

  • Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.

Avoid line drying your clothes and bedding as pollens and mold spores can collect on the fabric.

Eliminate indoor plants if you are allergic to mold.  Damp soil harbors mold.

Limit exposure on mornings that are especially warm and dry or days that are dry and windy as these will usually be high pollen count days.

Minimize touch with items that have come in contact with pollen, such as pets and people that have spent a large amount of time outdoors.

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, and in severe allergy cases, wear a facemask when daily pollen counts are extremely high.

If you’re traveling, check allergy forecasts for your destination.

Monitor pollen and mold counts via newspaper, radio, or internet reports.

Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.

For more information about allergies, go to the: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology at http://acaai.org  or the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology at http://www.aaaai.org.

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327.  

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