Fall Allergies

As if Back to School wasn’t bad enough, the stores have the Halloween candy on the shelves already. Summer doesn’t officially end until September 21st people! Let me bask in the sun for the full three months before you break out the scarecrows and pumpkins. I haven’t even begun to burn off the summer wine weight, and you’re throwing apple pies at me. At this rate, my life is going to be over before it begins. Autumn will be here soon enough and with it, itchy eyes, itchy throats, runny noses and coughs. Spring may be the winner for seasonal allergies but the fall comes in as a close second.

1. About 75% of people who experience allergies to spring pollen will have allergy symptoms in the fall as well. It is estimated that 40 million Americans have seasonal allergies – that’s a lot of runny noses!

2. In Autumn, the biggest culprit is ragweed. The pollen from ragweed, which is a tall, flowering weed, has the greatest allergen potential of almost any plant. Additionally, it can be found practically everywhere in the U.S., even where the plant doesn’t grow. Ragweed pollen is small and light. On a clear, dry, windy day, it can travel for hundreds of miles. You don’t have to live anywhere near it to find it sneaking up your nose.

3. The other two major fall allergy offenders are mold and dust mites. The aftermath of Hurricane Irene has everyone thinking about the mold indoors, but the mold outside is a big problem as well. The fallen, wet leaves are the perfect breeding ground for mold spores, which can then be carried on shoes and clothes or by the wind. Dust mites thrive in the humid summer months. Then, they hang out in your heating vents. Once you turn on the furnace, you blow those little microscopic insects throughout your whole house.

4. The symptoms of fall allergies are the same as those experienced in the spring, with one exception. In the fall, many people who are allergic to ragweed pollen may experience an itchy throat and mouth after they eat certain fresh fruits and vegetables. Know as oral allergy syndrome, this occurs because of an immunologic cross-reactivity.

5. When will symptoms resolve? – Unfortunately, it appears that the ragweed pollination season is getting longer and longer – experts blame this on global warming. I am going to start excusing my sugar addiction, my kids’ bad behavior and my gray hairs on the climate shifts. After all, it seems you can blame everything else on global warming – why not? Likely, fall allergies from pollen will last until the end of November – just in time for cold and flu season.

The weather here in the Northeast isn’t helping. The rain continues. Damp, heavy air is good for keeping the pollen count low, but it stinks for mold proliferation. While the weather is a dreary nuisance for me, for others it is devastating. The heavy rain last night sent my husband running out of the house to clean the gutters and empty the pails again – how annoying, right? After complaining for a moment, we stopped to consider all the families who are running out of their flooded homes with no where to run to. I have nothing clever to close out the entry today -just a reminder to pray for all the victims of Irene – their numbers continue to climb.

Tomorrow, fall allergies in children.

Friday, prevention and treatment.

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