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Achoo! Fall Allergy Season is Nothing to Sneeze At

Taking small precautions can pay off big when searching for relief from fall allergies.

Think you are in the clear from your allergies now that fall has arrived? Think again, fellow moms (and dads) of Upper St. Clair.

The fall allergy season is now upon us, and if you are an allergy sufferer, it is likely you have spent much of your time the past few weeks sneezing and shopping for relief.

“Fall allergy season typically begins in mid-August,” said Deborah Gentile, MD, director of research in the Division of Allergy, Asthma
and Immunology at Allegheny General Hospital
. “The season peaks in early to mid-September and ends with the first hard frost, which usually is in October.”

The good news is that when fall is over, so is allergy season, unless you have mold allergies, according to Dr. Gentile.

“If you are allergic to mold, you can still have problems until the ground freezes. Individuals who are allergic to pets or dust mites may have problems all year long, too, especially as they can get into the air the first time you turn on the furnace," she said.

Mold’s spores can easily get airborne, and mold thrives in damp areas, both indoors and outdoors, according to WebMD.com. Fall’s damp leaves and decaying plants that laden the neighborhood grounds are become common breading areas for mold, just like damp basements and bathrooms.

Ragweed is the biggest fall pollen, said Dr. Gentile, who also sees patients at the West Penn Allegheny Health System Outpatient Care Center in Peters Township.

According to WebMD, the reason for this is because about three-quarters of people who are allergic to spring pollen-producing plants also are allergic to ragweed. And, ragweed pollen can travel great distances, so although you may not live in an area where it grows, you may still be affected if you are allergic to it.

Common symptoms that could mean you are joining the ranks of thousands of fall allergy sufferers are called allergic rhinitis and may include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, dark circles under the eyes and itchy eyes and nose, according to WebMd. People who are allergic
to ragweed also may develop an itchy mouth and throat, a condition called oral allergy syndrome, that may be most likely to occur after eating certain foods such as bananas, cucumbers and melon.

Anyone with fall allergies knows that while the cooler temperatures are often a welcome relief to the summer heat, the days can be miserable if they are not able to find relief.

Dr. Gentile suggested a couple of ways to avoid exposure to these common allergens and ultimately help aid in feeling better.

“First, do not hang clothes outside to dry, and use your air conditioning instead of opening the windows. Also, take a shower and wash your hair each night before bed, as this will help to remove any allergens on your body. For extra relief, you may want to try an over-the-counter antihistamine," she said.

If none of these methods provide relief, if the antihistamines are not working, or if you suffer from asthma, ear infections or sinus problems that are triggered by allergies, it may be time to consult an allergist who can offer other treatment methods, according to Dr. Gentile.

For more information about fall allergies or to make an appointment with Dr. Gentile, call (412) 359-6440 or visit www.wpahs.org.

Becky Brindle September 22, 2011 at 04:00 PM
I get an itchy throat when I eat bananas...had no idea that means I'm likely allergic to ragweed! Very interesting Heather!

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