What allergens are high this time of year?

Seasonal Allergies

If you feel like you’re always getting sick, with a cough or head congestion, it’s time to see an allergist. You may think you’re sure pollen is causing your suffering, but other substances may be involved as well. More than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round symptoms. Your best resource for finding what’s causing your suffering and stopping it, not just treating the symptoms, is an allergist.

Work together with your allergist to devise strategies to avoid your triggers:

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts. Weather reports in newspapers and on radio and television often include this information during allergy seasons.
  • Keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car during allergy season.
  • To avoid pollen, know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.
  • Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
  • Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors, and take appropriate medication beforehand.

Your allergist may also recommend one or more medications to control symptoms. Some of the most widely recommended drugs are available without a prescription (over the counter); others, including some nose drops, require a prescription.

If you have a history of prior seasonal problems, allergists recommend starting medications to alleviate symptoms two weeks before they are expected to begin.

One of the most effective ways to treat seasonal allergies linked to pollen is immunotherapy (allergy shots). These injections expose you over time to gradual increments of your allergen, so you learn to tolerate it rather than reacting with sneezing, a stuffy nose or itchy, watery eyes.

Seasonally Related Triggers

While the term “seasonal allergies” generally refers to grass, pollen and mold, there is a different group of triggers that are closely tied to particular seasons. Among them:

  • Smoke (campfires in summer, fireplaces in winter)
  • Insect bites and stings (usually in spring and summer)
  • Chlorine in indoor and outdoor swimming pools
  • Candy ingredients (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter)
  • Pine trees and wreaths (Thanksgiving to Christmas))

This page was reviewed and updated 12/28/2017.

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Allergic Living’s handy region-by-region field guide to Canada.

For the U.S. field guide, see America’s Trees of Allergies.

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We can blame the deciduous trees’ attempts at procreation for our watery, red-eyed snuffling and other springtime rhinitis symptoms. Catkins, which often appear as elaborate cones or buds, are a tree’s reproductive organs, and they bloom before the leaves bud. Male catkins will release literally millions of pollen grains into the air in an attempt to find a female catkin match.

Dr. Wilf Nicholls, director of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden, explains that wind pollination is “super inefficient” because only a fraction of the huge amounts of tiny grains the tree churns out will arrive at their intended destination, the female catkin. Instead, great quantities of them will be inhaled into noses and throats and set off reactions in the tree allergic.

It’s an unlucky break that most deciduous trees in northern climes are wind-pollinated. Birch, elm, maple, oak and poplar are some of the most allergenic trees across Canada and the northern United States. But where you are, the month and the weather all influence the onset of symptoms.

West Coast

On the foliage-rich west coast, red alder is public enemy number one. Robert Guy, head of forest sciences at the University of British Columbia, says much of the forest surrounding coastal towns and cities is full of red alder. Depending on the weather, these trees can pollinate as early as mid-February, or as late as the end of March, and they spread pollen for about three weeks.

Vancouver allergist Dr. Donald Stark says red alder is particularly insidious because it produces a ton of pollen; it often has the highest pollen count of any plant on the coast. People allergic to it may also react to birch trees, which pollinate about a month after alders, prolonging the misery.

Stark identifies the Garry oak as another culprit on the west coast.
In most of Canada, ragweed is the worst offender for triggering hay fever, followed by grass, then trees. Stark says the west coast is the exception: here, trees pack the hardest punch.

The Prairies

Birch Trees are to blame for spring pollen allergies in the Prairies.

Those of us living on the continent’s northern plains have willow, birch and poplars (cottonwood and aspen) to blame for the first bout of red eyes and respiratory distress. Pollination time on the Prairies is heavily influenced by the weather, and these trees typically bloom in late April or early May.

The paper birch is so ubiquitous, it’s “almost synonymous with Canada,” Guy says. Civic governments plant paper birch, ash and elm trees in many Prairie cities. Oak is found in forested areas. Poplar, a widespread tree on the plains, is one of the first to spread its pollen and seed.

Not as numerous but also allergy-causing to some is the Russian olive. “They’re popular in the Prairies because there’s not much you can grow there,” Vancouverite Guy says with a chuckle.

Central-East Region

Allergy sufferers in Southern Ontario, Quebec, and the northeastern U.S. have a bevy of pollinating trees to avoid. Ottawa allergist Dr. Mortimer Katz says birch, elm, maple, oak and poplar are some of the worst offenders. More bad news: if you react to one of those trees, you’re more likely to “cross-react” and develop symptoms to some of the others.

An area stretching up the northeastern U.S. into southern Ontario which includes Pittsburgh and Toronto is particularly bad, thanks to prolific grasses, trees and ragweed. Katz dubs the Ottawa Valley the “allergy capital of the world,” adding that “almost everybody who comes to Ottawa says their allergies are worse here.”

Trees can start causing trouble in central Canada as early as March and as late as May.

The Atlantic

East coasters are blessed with more coniferous (and mostly non-allergenic) trees than the rest of the country, but poplars, maples, oaks and birch trees are also present. Maritime trees usually start churning out pollen in late winter to early spring, Nicholls says.

Newfoundlanders, however, may not start sneezing until May because, as Nicholls notes, it “warms up really slowly. The longer it’s frosty and cold, the slower those catkins will emerge and release pollen.” Katz says fresh air blowing off the ocean also keeps some east coasters’ allergies at bay.

Turning off the tap

Why are some trees more irritating than others? Stark says it depends on the amount of wind-blown pollen a tree produces, as more pollen means more reactivity, as well as the physical properties of pollen grains, such as size, coating and weight (lighter seeds are easily carried on the wind). Trees that rely on insects or birds to transfer pollen from male to female catkins, such as cherry and Pacific Dogwood, have seeds with a waxy coating, which helps stop reactive proteins from reaching the immune system and firing it up.

The telltale sign a patient is allergic to trees is the timing of symptoms, says Dr. Eric Leith, chair of the Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation, and an allergist in Toronto and Oakville. “If you’re coughing and rubbing your eyes after the snow melts, trees are a likely cause,” he says. A skin-prick test or an allergy blood test can confirm the diagnosis.

Relief from tree pollen’s toll is available: there are reliable, non-sedating antihistamines and nasal-steroid sprays, or ask an allergist if you’re a candidate for immunotherapy (allergy shots). Those who sneeze at trees should also try to keep the pollen out of their homes by keeping the windows shut in spring. Remember that the lovely breeze has a role in the great pollen explosion.

Reprinted from Allergic Living magazine. © Copyright AGW Publishing Inc.
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See Also:

  • Outdoor Allergies Resource Hub – a compilation of our best.
  • Sneeze-free Garden – create the perfect low-allergen garden.
  • Trees that Make You Sneeze
  • Stinging Insect Allergies – when is it a serious reaction?
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Why Are Some Trees Pollinated by Wind And Some by Insects?

Male alder catkin. Photo by Jerry A. Payne USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Pollen is to trees what sperm is to animals. It carries the tree’s male genes; it is the male fertilizing unit of woody plant reproduction. Typically, pollen appears in spring as a powdery cloud of fine, yellowish grains. Each tiny grain is a single cell, encased in a tough, ridged, or spiked coating. When inhaled by susceptible people, these grains can cause nasty allergic reactions. But they are absolutely essential for the continuing life cycle and evolution of trees.

Pollination is the movement of these pollen grains from the male reproductive part of a plant to the female reproductive part. It is a prerequisite to fertilization, which occurs when the sperm-making pollen is united with the egg-containing ovary of a plant of the same species. If all goes well, the making of pollen, the subsequent act of pollination, and the biological marvel of fertilization all lead to the growth of fruits and seeds. This is a very good deal. Not only is it the basis for agricultural food production for human needs, it also perpetuates trees and determines the composition of forests. Pollen is key.

While fortuitous accidents do happen, and some trees get lucky despite being rooted and unable to move about in search of a mate, most trees need a bit of help – from wind or animals – to get their pollen from one flower to another. Globally, the incidence of wind pollination increases with both latitude and elevation. It is most common in our temperate deciduous and in boreal forests but extremely uncommon in tropical rain forests. There, animal-aided pollination – especially by insects – is much more common.

Wind pollination is most effective in open habitats and in early successional ecosystems, where wind is likely to be an advantage. Indeed, it is common among forest trees that reach canopy height and whose flowers or cones are exposed to winds, but almost nonexistent among understory plants, which live in less wind-prone conditions. Nearly all of our common conifers – including pines, spruces, and firs – rely on wind pollination, and so do many broadleaved trees, including aspens, cottonwoods, oaks, ashes, elms, birches, and walnuts. These hardwoods all share a common male flower form: they tend to occur in elongate, drooping catkins well-positioned for wind dissemination. Many of them – most famously the aspens, oaks, and ashes – avoid interference from leaves by forming flowers and shedding their pollen well before leaf-out. But relying on the vagaries of wind and weather to deliver pollen is arguably something of a crapshoot. Consequently, trees gambling on such a risky mode of pollination seem to hedge their bets by producing enormous amounts of pollen – ten million grains from one cluster of birch catkins, for example. That’s billions of pollen grains from a single tree. And while at times it may seem as if most of them are in your lungs and the rest are on your car, at least some of that pollen actually finds the intended female flower parts.

While this throw-pollen-to-the-wind strategy may be effective in stands with many individuals of the same species growing near each other, it does have its shortcomings – particularly in mixed-species stands and in fragmented landscapes. Although some pollen can travel great distances, it doesn’t remain viable for very long, and most airborne pollen comes to rest close to the tree that produced it. Thus, it is not as effective at delivering pollen to distant trees. Moreover, it is very expensive, energetically, for the parent tree to produce such large quantities, and seems wasteful when so much pollen never reaches its intended target.

By contrast, trees that rely on pollination by animals (chiefly insects, but also birds and bats) tend to produce far less pollen in any given flowering period, because pollination is more direct and efficient. The animal-transported pollen also tends to be slightly sticky, less dust-like, and produced later, when the leaves are forming. This approach seems to work better among widely-spaced individuals. There are fewer examples of native non-windpollinated species. Among the best known insect-pollinated trees are apples, basswood, cherries, black locust, catalpa, horse chestnut, tulip tree, and the willows. As logic would have it, species that rely on insects (mostly bees, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, and moths), birds, and bats, tend to have fragrant (sometimes stinky), large, or otherwise showy flowers.

Attracting insects that might carry pollen from one tree to another tends to facilitate an out-crossing mode of reproduction. This carries weighty implications for genetic variation and flexibility, which in turn allow species to cope with varied habitats and changing growing conditions over time. It is also good reason to remember that most insect pollinators do this important work when they are adults, even if some of them can be voracious defoliators during their earlier, immature life stages.

Michael Snyder is the Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester.

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Variety of Pollens throughout Allergy Seasons

For many allergy sufferers, pollen can be a vicious word reminiscent of many sneezy, unhealthy days and nights. How can fine powder released from flowering plants affect our senses so greatly?

To explain…pollen is a plant’s only form of reproduction and it’s produced in mass quantities. It’s carried in the air and can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs and on skin.

For people with allergies, pollen is an allergen that causes an allergic reaction. Their immune system treats the pollen as an invader and responds by mobilizing to attack by producing large amounts of antibody. This allergic reaction can cause the following symptoms: itchy watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, hives, fatigue, and irritability.

When is Pollen Season?

Pollens spread by the wind. Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are the main cause of allergies. Spring is not the only allergy season, many plants pollinate year round. Your location will determine the time and duration of your pollen season. Pollen counts will vary from day to day as well as hour to hour.

Different Pollens for Each Pollen Season

In springtime, pollen from the trees begins its release between January and April, depending on the climate and location. These trees include elm, pine, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, and cypress to name a few.

Summertime is when grass pollen reigns supreme: pollen from northern grass in colder climates, such as timothy, rye, and blue; and southern grass pollens in the warmer climates, such as Bermuda Grass.

In the fall, typically weed pollen takes control. These weeds include ragweed, nettle, mugwort, fat hen and sorrel.

Track Pollen Levels in Your Area

If you want to know the allergy levels for your location, Pollen.com provides you with the tools to track pollen in your hometown and across the nation.

AS temperatures rise and sunny summer days finally arrive, one in five people across the country are experiencing pollen allergies.

Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know about the tree pollen season.

2 Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know about tree pollen seasonCredit: Getty – Contributor

What is a tree pollen allergy?

Pollen from trees and shrubs can trigger hayfever, which is a type of allergy, sometimes called seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Hayfever occurs when your body makes the mistake of treating the tree pollen, or pollen from shrubs, as a harmful organism, and the immune system goes into action by making antibodies to try to prevent it spreading.

Symptoms of hayfever include sneezing, itchy, even watery, eyes and a stuffy nose, and about 1 in every 4 people in the UK who have hayfever are allergic to tree pollen.

Alcohol, including beer, wine and other spirits, worsens hayfever as they contain histamine – the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in the body.

2 Trees can trigger hayfeverCredit: Getty – Contributor

When is tree pollen season in the UK and when does it end?

The pollen season across the UK is separated into three main sections.

From late March to mid-May is tree pollen season, while mid-May to July is grass pollen season and weed pollen season runs from the end of June until September.

The tree pollen season this year is due to finish by the middle to the end of May.

Around 20 per cent of hay fever sufferers are allergic to tree pollen.

The trees in the UK which are most likely cause problems are birch, alder, hazel and horse chesnut.

What time of the day has the highest pollen count?

A pollen count is generated by measuring the number of pollen grains in a given volume of air, using a pollen trap.

A count of 50 pollen grains or less is considered low, and a count of 1,000 pollen grains or more is considered high.

Pollen counts tend to be higher in early morning and late evening, although they can sometimes be high all day long.

If the grass is damp, the pollen peak will be later in the morning because the water evaporates before the pollen is released.

Pollen rises in the air during the day and then descends at night, as the air cools.

In rural areas, the evening peak tends to occur between 6pm and 9pm but in the city, where the air stays warmer for longer, the pollen descends later and levels tend to peak between 9pm and midnight or even later, which is why you may wake up sneezing in the night.

Sunny days favour higher pollen counts and rain tends to wash the pollen away, whereas on a cloudy day, pollen builds up only to be released on the next sunny day.

Heavy showers expected to hit Britain over the weekend as pollen count hits high

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When Are The Worst Times For Allergies?

Allergens are all around us, gunning to make us sneeze, our eyes itch and make us feel just plain miserable. At some point during the year, an estimated 50 to 60 million people in the U.S. – – as much as 20 percent of the population – – struggle with allergies. What are the worst seasons for allergies in the U.S.?
The answer to that question depends on the person and where they live. What may not affect one person`s allergies may be agony to another.
Winter and Early Spring (January to early April):
For areas that rarely if ever see a frost, including Florida and the immediate Gulf Coast to California, the start of the year is the start of the allergy season. As soon as days start to lengthen a bit, grass begins to grow and releases pollen to spread. By February, the grass is flowering in the Deep South and parts of the Carolinas across the Texas and New Mexico valleys and into central California, with tree pollens joining the pollen party as well.
The grass pollen season expands into the Tennessee Valley and Mid-Atlantic by February and March, with trees likely to cause allergic reactions as far north as the Mason-Dixon Line by early April. Before Easter, residents from the Washington coast, southeastward into the Great Basin and then eastward to the Mid-Atlantic can expect to see that familiar yellow powder pollen coating everything.
Late Spring and Early Summer (late April to July):
Tree pollen season starts to wind down across the extreme southern tier by the latter half of April and May, but it is just getting ramped up further north. Tree pollen is the primary allergen across the northern Plains, Great Lakes and New England during the month of May. Grasses are typically just starting to flower during this time in the northern tier, so residents may occasionally be able to catch a break, but by Memorial Day, expect to see pollen flying in the air and have a tissue on hand for those sneezes.
While grass pollen season continues unabated across the northern tier, making allergy sufferers downright miserable, residents of the Southwest can catch a break. The hot summer days can bake grasses, setting them into dormancy, or a survival-type of sleep. Areas of California, Texas and Arizona that see temperatures surge past the century mark on a regular basis can breathe a sigh of relief for a few weeks in July and early August. However, the dormant grasses can allow the wind to kick up dirt and fields, leading to a peak in the dust season.
Late Summer and Fall (August to December):
A fresh allergen, ragweed, is starting to make its way across the U.S. by the middle of summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, ragweed, which is actually a flowering plant found near river banks, is the leading cause of allergies, with three-fourths of all sufferers allergic to it. This scourge of sneezers starts to pop up during the latter half of July. The Southeast is usually the first to be subjected to the ragweed pollen season, as it thrives in its hot and humid climate. By late August, ragweed rapidly expands its territory north- and westward, and residents throughout the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. will be feeling itchy and watery eyes.
Ragweed season, and along with it the pollen season, comes to an end as the fall frosts arrive. As nighttime temperatures drop into the 20s, the ragweed plant is unable to survive the chilly conditions. This occurs from north to south, slowly but surely, from September to November. The cooler days, however, lead to a second season of grasses, which are able to wake from their dormancy, spreading their pollen across the Southwest and along the Gulf Coast during October and early November.
The shorter days limit the length of this grass season and they enter another short dormancy before Thanksgiving. Christmas season provides nearly the entire U.S. with another blessing: there are very few outdoor allergens in the environment. However, as soon as the calendar flips to a new year, the cycle starts all over again.

Spring Allergies 2019: A Timeline and Tips to Handle Allergies This Season

  • March 21, 2019
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Spring officially started! We can say goodbye to winter, but when do we have to say hello to allergy season? It seems like allergy season lasts all year, and technically it does. Watery eyes, stuffy nose, rashes and other symptoms can show up thanks to triggers all year.

So when does spring allergy season actually start? And more importantly for me, when can I expect it to end? We look into and provide tips to help you get through spring allergies below.

When Do Spring Allergies Start?

Spring allergies occur for most people because of pollen. There are different types of pollen to consider (like tree pollen, grass pollen, ragweed pollen). Tree pollen hits in late March and April, and grass pollen isn’t far behind it. Other types of pollen hit later in spring into summer.

Experts say that warmer-than-average winter temperatures and climate change mean allergy season starts earlier and ends later. These factors lead to early tree pollination and led to higher pollen counts than normal for this time of year. As a result, we’re experiencing an early start to allergy season. And if you suffer from tree pollen allergies, you’re likely among the first to feel the effects.

Scientists have a hunch that an early allergy season could mean we’re in for a longer-than-average season. But because rainfall amounts have a bearing on how long trees and flowers pollinate; it’s too early to predict for sure. Whatever the outcome, if you are prone to seasonal allergies, now is a great time to get prepared.

Tips for Dealing with Spring Allergies

Use these simple tips to avoid symptom-triggering pollen and breathe easier this spring:

Know Your Pollen Count

Keep an eye on the daily pollen count for your city. You can use our handy pollen alert tracker in our Learning Center to track your city’s daily reports. On days the count is high (120 or above), stay indoors if possible to keep pollen exposure to a minimum.

Close Your Windows

Although it’s tempting to open your windows and let fresh spring air indoors, it may not be the best thing for your symptoms. Keep windows and doors closed to avoid letting pollen spores circulate and settle inside your home.

Shower After Spending Time Outside

Take a shower after spending time outdoors to wash pollen out of your hair and keep it from falling onto your pillow.

Consider Using An Air Purifier

Air purifiers, especially those that have HEPA filters, filter even the tiniest pollen spores out of your air along with other symptom triggers like dust, mold, and pet dander. With regular use, you can reduce and even eliminate your symptoms. Browse our air purifiers for allergies to see our top recommended models.

When to Expect Spring Allergies to End

So when do spring allergies go away? Unfortunately, the same qualities that make allergy season start earlier also makes them stay longer. April tends to be the worst month for most spring allergy-sufferers, but spring allergies typically last until early summer. It’s pretty easy to see why: That’s when most of the flowers and trees are blooming.

Tree pollen is the most common culprit for spring allergies. Grass and weeds also cause issues later in the spring allergy season. Most people see their allergy symptoms start to disappear by early June, but it can change depending on where you live in the country. The best idea is to be prepared and use our tips to fight them any time of year.

Do you suffer from allergies? Let us know how you deal with them in the comments below. And follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more information on seasonal allergies.

Seasonal Allergies: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hay fever happens when your immune system identifies an airborne substance that’s usually harmless as dangerous. It responds to that substance, or allergen, by releasing histamines and other chemicals into your bloodstream. Those chemicals produce the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Common triggers of hay fever vary from one season to another.

Spring

Trees are responsible for most springtime seasonal allergies. Birch is one of the most common offenders in northern latitudes, where many people with hay fever react to its pollen. Other allergenic trees in North America include cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow, and poplar.

Summer

Hay fever gets its name from hay-cutting season, which is traditionally in the summer months. But the real culprits of summertime seasonal allergies are grasses, such as ryegrass and timothy grass, as well as certain weeds. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, grasses are the most common trigger for people with hay fever.

Fall

Autumn is ragweed season. The genus name for ragweed is Ambrosia, and it includes more than 40 species worldwide. Most of them grow in temperate regions of North and South America. They’re invasive plants that are difficult to control. Their pollen is a very common allergen, and the symptoms of ragweed allergy can be especially severe.

Other plants that drop their pollen in the fall include nettles, mugworts, sorrels, fat hens, and plantains.

Winter

By winter, most outdoor allergens lie dormant. As a result, cold weather brings relief to many people with hay fever. But it also means that more folks are spending time indoors. If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, you may also react to indoor allergens, such as mold, pet dander, dust mites, or cockroaches.

Indoor allergens are often easier to remove from your environment than outdoor pollens. Here are a few tips for ridding your home of common allergens:

  • Wash your bedding in very hot water at least once a week.
  • Cover your bedding and pillows with allergen-proof covers.
  • Get rid of carpets and upholstered furniture.
  • Remove stuffed toys from your children’s bedrooms.
  • Fix water leaks and clean up water damage that can help mold and pests flourish.
  • Clean moldy surfaces and any places that mold may form, including humidifiers, swamp coolers, air conditioners, and refrigerators.
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce excess moisture.

The Complete Guide to Fall Allergies in Florida—2019

Other Seasonally Related Triggers

While people think of “seasonal allergies” as referring to grass, pollen and mold allergies, there can also be other allergy triggers that are closely tied to specific seasons. Among other fall allergy triggers:

  • Smoke (from fall campfires)—Fall weather in Jacksonville makes for ideal s’mores roasting time and a small bonfire makes the early evenings a bit more cozy—but if the smoke from campfires results in an asthma attack, then it’s no fun at all. Since smoke is a common asthma trigger, always sit upwind of the smoke and keep your distance from the fire to prevent an asthma flare-up.
  • Insect bites and stings—for insect allergy sufferers, certain bugs around your yard can be more than just a nuisance. An estimated two million Americans are allergic to insect stings, which can cause the life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Anyone with an insect allergy should always carry an allergist prescribed epinephrine. Additional steps you can take to reduce insect stings is always wear shoes in the yard, keep food covered and not drinking from open soft drinks which attract bugs. Another thing you can do is hire a professional pest control company to treat for insects around your yard and home.
  • Candy ingredients—Halloween is almost upon us and Thanksgiving is right behind, many of these holiday’s most popular foods—especially among children—can lead to dangerous allergic reactions for food allergy sufferers. Make sure to check food ingredients and let others know about yours or your children’s food allergies.

Additional Tips to Manage and Control Your Fall Allergies

  • When possible, stay inside and keep doors and windows closed when pollen is at it’s highest (usually in the morning or midday)—Like our Facebook Page to get daily pollen counts in our area or visit Pollen.com for your own local area.
  • Before you turn on the heat in your house for the first time, make sure to clean the heating vents and change filters. Sometimes mold and other allergens get trapped in the vents over our humid summers and will fill the air in your house once the heat kicks on.
  • Invest in a HEPA filter for your home’s HVAC system. These filters force air through a fine mesh and traps harmful allergens and particles such as pollen, pet dander, mites, and tobacco smoke.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep the air inside your home below 50% humidity.
  • Wear a mask when working outside and in your yard so you don’t breathe in mold spores—this is especially important if you are raking leaves or picking up decaying grass clippings.

With proper care and clean up, and some preventative medications, you can enjoy the great fall weather we have here in Jacksonville.

Contact us to schedule an appointment for allergy screenings or to discuss an allergy management plan.

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This Is the Reason Your Allergies Are Terrible This Year

Presented by: Penn Medicine

Photo credit: iStock/razyph

Allergy season is upon us, (runny-nosed, watery-eyed) friends. And if you’re like the thousands of other Philadelphians who suffer from seasonal allergies, then you know they can leave you foggy and fatigued. To combat this perennial nuisance — and perhaps put a stop to your seasonal allergies for good — we spoke with Jeffrey Millstein, MD, a primary care physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights, who provided us a slew of helpful tips for tackling allergy season head-on.

First, some good news: there are no new super-pollens out there ready to wreak havoc on your nostrils. “I am not aware that there are any ‘new’ allergens this year,” says Millstein. So stay on the lookout for repeat offenders like grasses, trees and weeds, which are loaded with allergy-inducing pollen granules.

But if you’ve noticed that your allergies are particularly bad this year, it might be because of those balmy, sunny days we experienced a few weeks ago. According to Millstein, “Often if there is warmer weather in early spring, pollens may be more abundant which can cause a worse allergy year for sufferers.” To remedy this, he suggests staying indoors when pollen counts are especially high (you can reference weather.com for this!), and hopping in the shower after spending time outdoors — especially after doing yard work. Though you might be indoors, it doesn’t mean that the pollen permeating the air hasn’t clung to your clothing and hair.

While many people have been afflicted with seasonal allergies for many years and have consulted a physician, it’s always smart to run your symptoms by a doctor if you find that your allergies are persistent, atypical or do not respond to over-the-counter medications. “Some folks may experience wheezing or skin rash, it is important to be sure that the symptoms are indeed from pollen and not another environmental agent or infection,” notes Millstein. “I would suggest a visit to the doctor if the symptoms are refractory or do not correlate with higher pollen count times, or if accompanied by fever.”

His parting advice? Start taking your medications as soon as possible — especially if you’re not demonstrating symptoms. “Allergy sufferers can do a lot to ward off symptoms,” he explains. “It helps to begin medications before symptoms develop if you are a known reactor, and take them consistently.” Most allergy medication are available over-the-counter these days, but he notes that some prescription plans may still cover these medications, which may be cost-saving for the patient.

For more information about Penn Primary Care, click here.

This is a paid partnership between Penn Medicine and Philadelphia Magazine’s City/Studio

Fall Allergies Have You Down? Why They’re So Bad Right Now

You likely already know the nearly year-round warm weather and windy, flat terrain in North Texas makes for a long and intense allergy season. Pandit pointed out that September is especially difficult for allergy sufferers.

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“With the mold we see in September, and more viruses as kids go back to school, and it’s a recipe for airway disaster,” he said.

Those factors culminate around the third week of September, known as Peak Weak. It’s particularly uncomfortable for those with asthma.

“It can be pretty severe and so people with those issues should be carrying an inhaler with them,” Pandit said.

He said he carries an inhaler in September and October when his allergy-induced asthma symptoms worsen.

“It can be serious, especially for people with acute asthma reaction. If you’re outside for a few hours in the middle of the day and the wind is blowing, that can precipitate a reaction,” Pandit said.

He also stressed avoidance with patients. He recommended they wear a mask when working outdoors to help limit exposure to ragweed. He said using an air purifier and nasal irrigation can help too.

Those feeling symptoms, but unsure if they’re allergies, may consider getting tested. If a patient knows what specific allergens cause a reaction, they can better avoid them.

As summer fades, it’s customary to look forward to certain things on your fall bucket list: cozy sweaters, apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, and no more summer allergies! Except, well, that last one? It’s only partly true, because allergies in the fall can be just as bad, just as annoying, and no, it’s not your imagination—allergy season really is lasting longer.

At the moment, according to the Pollen.com map, parts of the southern United States are starting to get hit with fall allergies; by mid-October, it’s likely that the more northern reaches will start feeling them, too. So as you’re stocking up on tissues and over-the-counter allergy medications, keep these expert tips in mind.

Woman sneezing in handkerchief at autumnMore

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What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies are an umbrella term for certain kinds of ailments; they’re unlikely to cause sufferers problems all year, but exactly when they come into force will vary based on the specific type of allergy and geographic location. In general, though, seasonal allergies have a couple of key causes, namely pollen and mold.

“You have different allergens at different times of the year,” says Cheryl Nelson, a broadcast meteorologist in Norfolk, VA. In spring, pollen tends to come from trees but in summer, it’s the pollen from flowering grasses like rye and bermudagrass that are most difficult for those with allergies.

Starting in late August and moving through October, fall seasonal allergies are largely due to pollen from weeds, including the infamous ragweed. Ragweed is perhaps the worst seasonal allergen in the United States: it’s found essentially nationwide, it can produce up to a billion grains of pollen per plant, and those grains of pollen can be carried for literally hundreds of miles by wind. Ragweed is also considered the leading cause of allergic rhinitis—sometimes known as hay fever—in the United States. “I think a lot of people may not realize the role that wind plays in spreading pollen,” Nelson says. Even if you don’t see any ragweed nearby, that doesn’t mean you’re free of its pollen.

Related: This New Vaccine Might Finally Help Your Cat Allergy

What Are Common Allergy Symptoms?

Many people with an allergy to one kind of pollen will also have allergies to multiple other types, but only an allergy test can tell you that for sure. So regardless of whether you’re allergic to ragweed, rye grass, or birch tree pollen, you’ll likely experience the same common allergy symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sinus pressure. In some cases, pollen can trigger asthma symptoms; the body’s reaction to an allergen can result in what’s called allergy-induced asthma. And, of course, there are seasonal headaches. Pollen allergies can cause inflammation and pain, but changing temperatures can also be responsible. A temperature change—like much of the country is dealing with right now—can cause a change in barometric pressure, and that can cause headaches. “A change of as little as 0.20 millibars impacts the pressure in the ear canal which can trigger headaches,” says Molly Rossknecht, M.D., a neurologist who specializes in headache medicine and medical advisor to WeatherX.

How to Treat Seasonal Allergies

Generally speaking, treatments for fall allergies are similar to summer or spring allergy treatments, and preventing excess pollen and mold from getting into your lungs is key. Pollen can be let into your house via open windows, or stuck to kids and outdoor pets. You can track it in with shoes, and it likes to get stuck in carpet and window treatments. (Hardwood floors are an allergy sufferer’s best friend because they’re easy to keep clean.) Vacuuming can help but may kick up pollen that was sitting in a carpet. An air purifier, as long as it uses a HEPA filter, can be a huge help; you can use our air purifier guide to find the best one for you.

Like pollen, different varieties of mold are more present during different weather conditions, whether that’s hot and dry or cool and damp. Mold, unlike pollen, comes from fungi; to reproduce, certain types of fungi let loose with spores, which are airborne and can be inhaled. Regularly cleaning your home, especially damp spots in bathrooms and basements where mold likes to grow, can also help alleviate allergy symptoms.

The good news is, fall allergy symptoms can usually be managed with over-the-counter products; ibuprofen for headaches, antihistamines for sneezing and runny nose; and decongestants to relieve stuffiness are a few popular options. But if those aren’t working, ask your doctor about allergy shots. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can be both cost-effective and long-lasting. Like many vaccines, these shots contain small amounts of the allergen that bothers you, in the hopes that your body will build up resistance fighting a small battle against that dastardly pollen.

Fall allergies can be a headache (literally), but there are simple ways to lessen your symptoms and reduce the amount of pollen and mold in your home. And if those measures aren’t enough, talk to your doctor about allergy testing and formulating a more tailored treatment plan. Stay safe out there—or at least, as non-sniffly as possible.

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