Autumn is coming… Prepare yourself for seasonal allergies!

Did you know that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy?  One of the most common allergies is seasonal allergies, which cover pollen, dust, mold, and mildew.  When the leaves change color, they decay and mold over, releasing spores in the air that get into your nose and make you sneeze.

These guys sneezed so hard they fell into this huge pile of leaves.

If you suffer from any of the following with the changing of the fall season, you might be allergic to mold and leaf rot:

  • coughing
  • itchy eyes, nose, throat or skin
  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • sinus pressure

You can prevent these nasty reactions and avoid putting yourself out of commission by keeping a few things in mind:

  • Vacuum and disinfect your living spaces frequently, especially your bedroom and bathroom, where mold will thrive if left to its own devices.
  • Clean the inside of your car to reduce the buildup of spores that get in through      open windows and your ventilation systems.
  • If you have a yard, rake the leaves and cut the grass often to prevent mold      spores from spreading, and use a face mask to keep from breathing them in.

If you do start experiencing allergy symptoms, you should speak with your doctor about the best treatment for you.  Some popular treatments are over-the-counter (OTC) medications like Benadryl or Claritin, which are anti-histamines.  These drugs prevent the things that cause allergies from causing a reaction by blocking them out.

Decongestants are also another popular treatment that are often taken with or prescribed with anti-histamines. Decongestants only treat the symptoms and make it easier for you to breathe but should only be taken for a few days since they can actually make your symptoms worse.

A popular alternative to these drugs is using a Neti pot or other form of nasal irrigation.  This practice allows salt water to flow through your nasal passages and sinuses to clear out the debris that may be stuck.  You can get a starter kit from your local drug store, but make sure to follow the directions and use distilled or boiled water (allow it to go lukewarm before you put it up your nose!) and clean your device well in between every session.

If you get congested and your symptoms won’t go away or they get worse, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with the Health Center to make sure you get well.  When in doubt, get it checked out!

Written by April Pagliassotti, Peer Educator