Now that fall is finally here, it's time to start thinking about allergy season. Unfortunately, forecasters predict this will be a difficult season, specifically for two regions in the United States. More than a dozen states will feel the impact that a hot and dry summer can bring, even those who may not usually deal with seasonal allergies.
Fall Allergy Outlook Throughout the United States
If you're east of the Mississippi River, prepare for high ragweed pollen throughout the fall. Fortunately, the peak of fall pollen has passed in the Northeastern portion of the country. However, this area will likely see some spikes of ragweed due to the unseasonably warm temperatures and ample moisture.
People will need to wait longer for relief throughout other states along the Eastern Seaboard. Unfortunately, the Southeastern states are the hotspot for seasonal allergies due to a much later arrival of cooler weather. Usually, these states experience their first frost of the season in late October, but some researchers predict that temperatures will remain high until a bit later. This later-than-average freeze will ensure that ragweed pollen levels remain high over the next several months, leading to trouble for seasonal allergy sufferers.
If you live anywhere between southern Idaho and western portions of Arizona, you can also expect unusually high pollen counts thanks to ample rainfall over the last several weeks. From August through September, total rainfall counts in southern parts of Nevada have climbed 350% higher than previous averages. Boise, Idaho, is experiencing similar rainfall amounts, exceeding their average by 360%.
Weeds rely on short-term moisture, such as thunderstorms, and they account for the majority of pollen in the fall. Any storm system and rising temperatures over the following weeks can cause pollen counts to increase significantly. At the same time, seasonal allergy sufferers in the West will find some relief due to a lack of moisture over the last several months. California remains particularly dry, which will lead to lower pollen counts. People further north in Washington and Oregon will experience average pollen levels.
A significant cold front will soon arrive in the central portion of the United States, and ragweed allergy sufferers will notice decreased symptoms as they switch the heat on this season. However, adjusting the thermostat may cause a rise in indoor allergens. As people spend more time inside with their windows shut, they may have to contend with dust mites, mold, pet dander and a variety of other common allergy culprits throughout the fall.
What's the Difference Between Seasonal Allergies and Viruses?
Many people mistakenly believe they are sick with a virus when they are experiencing allergy symptoms. In addition, it is quite easy to mistake a virus for seasonal allergies. Because flu season is nearly here, it's vital to learn how to tell the differences between the flu, allergies and COVID-19. Officials are worried about an influx of these conditions and are urging people to get their vaccines as soon as possible to avoid putting a strain on hospitals nationwide.
While allergies may cause a runny nose and sneezing, they are not contagious. Another common symptom of allergies is itchy eyes and nose. While people who have a cold, flu or COVID-19 may also experience these symptoms, there are additional symptoms you should be aware of. Cold symptoms may include congestion, sore throat and cough, while COVID-19 and the flu can also lead to aches, fever, headache and extreme fatigue.
While treatment guidelines continue to evolve for COVID-19, a variety of medications are available to help treat seasonal allergies and symptoms associated with the flu and the common cold. Speak to your doctor to determine which medicines are right for you.
Tips for Dealing With Seasonal Allergies
Many people have to contend with both seasonal and indoor allergies. However, there are several things you can do to decrease your symptoms. While some of these tips may seem unusual, they can certainly help you find some relief this fall.
Consider rinsing your eyelids several times a day with lukewarm water. During the fall months, pollen often comes into contact with your eyes, which makes them swollen and itchy, which may lead to significant irritation and possibly infection. By rinsing your eyelids, you can break up the pollen and remove it from your eyes.
Purchase a dehumidifier to keep your home dry and inhospitable for mold and other allergens to thrive in. Choosing the right dehumidifier for your room is important, as a smaller model may not work as well in a larger space. In addition, some types can be particularly loud, so choose one that produces minimal noise if you intend to place it in your bedroom.
Keep your windows shut in the fall, especially when pollen levels are high. Although it can be quite tempting to keep your windows open on a beautiful fall day, an open window allows pollen to flow freely into your home, making your allergies even worse. If your house gets stuffy during the season, run your air conditioner instead.
When you come inside at the end of your workday, take a shower as soon as you can. Your clothes collect pollen throughout the day, even when you're only outside for a short amount of time. Taking a warm shower will not only rinse pollen off your skin, but it will clear up your nasal passages, making it much easier to breathe.
While people with food allergies should obviously steer clear of certain foods, those with seasonal allergies should do the same. For example, eating melons, oranges, figs and tomatoes may worsen your symptoms if you have grass allergies. This reaction is because the immune system mistakes these foods for pollens, causing your throat to itch or swell.
Always check the pollen count in your area each morning before you head out the door. If it is exceptionally high, try to avoid going outside as much as possible that day. You can even wear a mask if you need to go out, which helps prevent you from being miserable with allergy symptoms later on.
Finally, remember to take your allergy medications in the evening. Most of them only work for six to eight hours, which could lead to you waking up the next day with itchy, watery eyes and a sore throat. In addition, an antihistamine may help you drift off to sleep faster, especially if you're dealing with severe symptoms.
While fall allergies can be challenging, you can take several steps to decrease their impact on your quality of life. By following these useful tips and staying weather-aware, you can maintain control of your allergies and enjoy the upcoming season.