This post has been updated for 2017. The original blog can be found here.
Fall means football watching, apple picking, pumpkin everything – and the return of allergy season. As many as 23 million Americans are allergic to ragweed, the most common culprit in fall seasonal allergies, according to the Asthma and Allery Foundation of America (AAFA). Another seasonal allergy trigger is mold, which makes jumping in piles of golden-hued leaves something you may want to check off your fall bucket list.
Here are 5 ways to keep fall allergies in check:
Monitor Pollen Counts
Changes in the season can bring on an asthma or allergy attack due to increased pollen in the air. Prepare for the weather before you leave home by checking the pollen count and air quality index. Limit your time outdoors during high pollen days. Warm, windy, dry days can also be bad news for allergy sufferers.
Reduce Your Exposure
Short of staying indoors, to reduce your exposure to pollen, keep your home and car windows closed and the air conditioner running. Use high-efficiency filters labeled with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of 11 or 12. Change them every two or three months. If using standard filters, change them monthly.
Time Your Workouts
Complete outdoor workouts in the morning, before the winds pick up. When working in the yard, consider wearing a mask or asking a family member to do it, so as not to aggravate systems when raking leaves or mowing the lawn. This is especially important if you’re allergic to mold.
Shower Off Pollen
After spending time outside, rinse off and change your clothes. Shower to get allergens off you, so that you’re not bringing them into the house, and transferring them onto your furniture. That is very, very important. Consider investing in professional upholstery cleaning every year to help with fall allergies.
Many allergens thrive in the home environment. Dust is a prime example. Composed of a variety of pollutants including (but not limited to) dirt, pollen, pet dander, and dust mites, dust can rapidly accumulate. During peak allergy seasons, such as fall and spring, consider vacuuming:
- Carpets and rugs at least once a week
- High-traffic areas at least twice a week
- Upholstered furniture, mattresses, and drapes regularly
- Even more frequently if you’re a pet friendly home