pentaWe boast all the time about the benefits of living in Winston-Salem and the Triad Region of North Carolina. One of those benefits is the four-season climate, and for people who love cooler temperatures, the onset of fall is something to look forward to. Bright blue skies, crisp air and colorful leaves make fall a wonderful season in our area. But if you’re one of the 30 million Americans suffering from pollen allergies or hay fever, this season may be one of your least favorite.

Fall allergies peak during September and October, lasting until the first frost. Thanks to our warm fall this year, we might not see a frost until well after the average, which generally falls
sometime between October 21st and October 31st. The primary culprit this time of year is ragweed, which is prolific along roadsides and in yards and fields all through the Triad. Ragweed relies on wind pollination, rather than being pollinated by insects, which means the windy, dry air of fall is a perfect conduit for spreading this pollen that serves as a popular allergen. Add to that the fact that each ragweed plant produces over a billion grains of pollen, and you can see how this plant puts fear in the heart of allergy sufferers.

For people with seasonal allergies, inhaling the pollen causes irritation, and the tiny particles trigger the release of histamine. This can lead to symptoms including sneezing, sniffling, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes and throat, and even asthma attacks.

Here are a few ways to reduce your suffering from allergy symptoms and enjoy this season of pumpkin patches, corn mazes and mountain hikes.

* Keep windows shut and the air conditioning running. When the temperatures start to fall at night, it’s tempting to shut of the AC and open up the windows for some fresh air. Although that also drives the pollen into your home. You’ll feel better if you keep the windows shut tight and keep your home as pollen-free as possible.

* Consider a HEPA filter. These can help filter the pollen out of your home. You could get one for the room you spend the most time in, or invest in one for every room. Just be sure to get a big enough filter for the room it will be put in.

* Wear a mask when doing yard work. Raking leaves and cutting grass disturbs pollen and makes you more likely to inhale it. While a mask won’t keep you from inhaling 100 percent of
the pollen particles, it will decrease the amount that gets into your system.

* Wash your hands and face when you’ve been outside. This is one way to protect yourself and keep pollen out of your home. If you’ve been outdoors for a long period of time, you might even consider changing your clothes.

Medical Options

While avoiding pollen is important, it doesn’t cut back on symptoms entirely. For many people, an over-the- counter antihistamine, or an antihistamine combined with a decongestant, will be enough to manage symptoms.

If you’ve tried over-the- counter options but are still dealing with symptoms, you might consider making an appointment with Piedmont Ear, Nose and Throat Associates.Our medical
professionals can help diagnose and pinpoint your allergies through allergy tests. Once there is a diagnosis, they will set up a treatment plan that works for you. Treatments could include prescriptions of nasal steroids, or immunotherapy, which helps the body build protective antibodies to specific allergens, reducing your allergic reaction over time.

Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 768-3361 today to schedule your appointment.