The allergy specialists at SRHN offer a comprehensive approach for relief from allergies – just in time for October when fall allergies begin to kick into high gear.
Fall is in the air, and for people who suffer from allergies, those beautiful fall colors could signify a whole new level of coughing, sneezing and wheezing. As leaves pile up they can often become damp moldy breeding grounds releasing mold spores that cause problems for the allergy sensitive. Weed pollen is also on the rise in mid-to late October, which tends to ramp up when the nights are cool and days warm. The pollen library index reports that about 20 known local species of weeds and grasses are in the flowering cycle in Northern California right now – including Black Mustard, Ragweed, Bermuda Grass and Orchard Grass – all categorized as ‘significant allergens’.
Of all the known fall grass allergies, ragweed is the biggest instigator. This irritating weed usually starts releasing pollen as nights begin to cool and temperate days linger into late October. About three-quarters of people who are allergic to blooming plants in the springtime are also allergic to ragweed. And ragweed pollen loves to get around; it is known to travel for hundreds of miles on the wind.
According to national statistics, more than 67 million Americans suffer from allergies every day triggering reactions such as asthma – which is the fifth most prevalent chronic diseases for people of all ages, and the third most common in children. A whopping 13.4 million people visit a doctor, hospital outpatient department or emergency department due to allergic rhinitis annually. In addition to mold and pollen other fall allergy triggers include;
• Dust mites: common during the cool, humid months when furnaces are fired up in the fall
• Pet dander: more time is spent indoors as weather patterns change in the fall, and people with pets are therefore more likely to encounter allergies
• Scented candles, potpourri, air fresheners and seasonal plant arrangements can all become more intense during the fall and cause discomfort for people with asthma
Typical fall allergy symptoms include:
• Itchy, runny nose
• Itchy, watery eyes
Getting treatment for Fall Allergies
Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to something in the environment that is otherwise completely harmless to most people. At NCMA’s Allergy Center of Santa Rosa Head and Neck allergy specialists are able to test for more than 40 inhalant allergens that are common to the area, including trees, grass, weeds, molds, dust mites, pet dander and more. Once the test is complete doctors are then able to advise on treatment options.
If the patient and doctor decide that immunotherapy is the best option for treating allergies, a process of desensitization can be undertaken. In order to trigger a person’s immune system to stop over-reacting to allergens, gradual desensitization happens by injecting extracts of known allergens. Normally these injections are given once a week for a number of months and then reduced to bi-monthly and eventually once a month. The goal if this series of treatments is to make the patient feel better while cutting back or eliminating allergy medications.
Managing allergens before they become a problem
Allergy experts recommend washing hands and face frequently to remove allergens during peak allergy seasons. And, when allergies are in full swing a good strategy is to take frequent showers and wash clothing more often to remove allergens like pollen, dander and mold that may be adhering to the surface. Steam from the shower can also help to open blocked nasal passages. Additional tips for managing potential allergy outbreaks include;
• Clean heating vents and change the furnace filter before turning on the furnace in the fall
• Use a HEPA filter in the heating system to remove pollen, mold, and other particles from the air
• Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels optimal at between 35- 50 percent humidity
• Wear a mask when raking leaves to avoid breathing in mold spores
• Bathe Fido once or twice a week with a fragrance-free pet shampoo to wash away any allergens that may be clinging to the fur, and to remove excess dander
• Wash bedding often as sheets and blankets tend to collect allergens
• Vacuum daily to keep allergens from settling on carpets and flooring
About The Allergy Center
The Allergy Center at Santa Rosa Head and Neck (SRHN) can help patients discover a clear solution to seasonal allergies with the help of a collaborative team of board-certified otolaryngologists and allergy specialists. SRHN physicians are members of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. To learn more visit our website or call (707) 523-7025 to schedule an appointment.