Beware of fall asthma and allergy triggers
Does the fall breeze cause you to sneeze and wheeze? Is this the time of year that your nose flows? Does the cooler weather give you sinus pressure? Fall allergy and asthma symptoms can be hard to manage.
Why do people develop allergies?
According to Dr. James Friedlander, physician with Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Associates PC, allergies arise because of an abnormal immune response.
“One of the jobs of the immune system is to make antibodies, which fight infections,” said Friedlander. “In allergic disorders, the immune system creates an allergy antibody rather than an antibody that would protect you or make you tolerant to a specific substance.”
To help identify the cause of an allergy, doctors can measure these abnormal responses by testing your skin or blood, although determining that cause is not always simple.
“The more difficult question is: ‘Why do so many people have allergies?’ What we know is, like many other common conditions, it is a complex interaction between having a genetic predisposition and exposure to the environment. That's really what's going to be at the root,” Friedlander said.
Luckily, you may be able to improve your symptoms by avoiding common triggers and taking other precautionary measures.
- Ragweed. This plant, commonly found in rural areas of the East and Midwest, affects a large number of allergy sufferers. About 75% of people who are allergic to pollen are also allergic to ragweed. This possible trigger is not easy to avoid, with just a single plant producing up to 1 billion pollen grains. Ragweed usually begins pollinating in mid-August and can continue until there is a hard freeze. Minimize your exposure to ragweed pollen by keeping windows closed and turning on an air conditioner or air purifier.
- Mold. While this pesky fungus grows year-round, autumn conditions can make mold allergies worse than usual. That is because mold spores are released into the air when humidity is high, or when it is dry and windy. Mold is typically found in basements, bathrooms and kitchens, and on fallen leaves and compost piles. So, take caution before doing outdoor activities such as raking and mowing. This may mean wearing a mask or having someone else perform outdoor chores.
- Dust mites. These microscopic bugs feed primarily on the dead skin cells found around your home. While dust mites are found year-round, a dust mite allergy can get worse in early fall. That’s because dust mites thrive in temperatures between the high 60s and mid-70s and when the humidity is high. While it’s virtually impossible to get rid of these invisible nuisances, you can decrease their numbers. Dusting and vacuuming can reduce the dust where skin cells and mites are found. Regularly washing bedding in hot water can kill dust mites and improve nighttime allergies. You can also reduce your home’s humidity by running a dehumidifier.
- Viruses. As the weather gets colder, viral infections become more common. If you develop an upper respiratory infection, your lower airways could become compromised. As a result, you may find that your asthma becomes more easily triggered. Your best protection against viral-induced asthma is to protect yourself from illnesses. Every fall, get your annual flu vaccine, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
Find allergy relief
You don’t need to suffer from allergies or asthma. A board-certified allergist from Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates, P.C. can help you determine the cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that works. Get more information on how to make an appointment with an allergist at Columbus
Tips to avoid asthma attacks
Asthma can’t be cured, but you can manage your symptoms:
Learn what your triggers are and avoid them.
Take asthma medication per your doctor’s directions.
- Get shots for the flu and pneumonia
- Monitor how much you’re using your quick-relief inhaler. If you use it frequently, ask your doctor about adjusting your treatment.