Spring and summer are generally thought of as the big allergy seasons. For many Atlanta residents, as autumn approaches, the dry weather can be a relief. It is important to remember that fall brings its own set of allergy problems. Ragweed and hay fever are just about to kick into high gear, and their season is just starting. Atlanta is a hotbed of pollen allergens, and many people in the area suffer from hay fever every year.
There are a good fifteen different species of sunflowers that fall into the category of ragweed. These typically come into bloom between August and the end of October. Ragweed pollen is a major source of allergies, with billions of grains of pollen produced every year.
These pollen grains are so light that they can actually travel 400 miles or more on the wind. The ability of ragweed to travel so far is in many ways moot. Ragweed can be found in every state, along highways, in yards and fields, and even in city lots.
The Cost of Hay Fever
Hay fever is responsible for nearly 4 million lost days of productivity in terms of work and school annually. It is responsible for sleep deficiency and consequent focus issues. It is a major contributing factor to fatigue, mood swings and depression. Sick people tend to be grumpy and prone to bad moods.
There are many things you can do to manage your allergies and help to avoid bouts of hay fever as the hot summer gives way to autumn. Most folks run immediately to allergy medication. Many over the counter meds carry the disadvantage of increasing drowsiness and fatigue, and can increase problems with focus, irritability and productivity as a result.
Even if you use allergy medications, however, there are some best practices to minimize your exposure to allergens and keep you feeling refreshed and clear-headed.
- Stay indoors during peak allergen times, between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
- If you have to go outside, take a shower as soon as you come in, to remove any pollen that may have stuck to your skin.
- Keep your windows closed in your home, and make sure that the filter in your air conditioning system is clean and fresh.
- Keep a dehumidifier and an air purifier running.
- Keep your house clean. Remember, pollen from ragweed can enter your house on clothes, pets, shoes and anything else you bring into your home.
- When driving, keep your windows up and use your air conditioning system. There are portable air purifiers that you can purchase to add to your car.
- Try using specialized bedding designed for allergy relief.
- Watch your exposure to harsh chemicals and irritants as these can make symptoms worse and likely increase your susceptibility to allergies.
By engaging in these best practices, you can avoid not only a lot of suffering and sleep deprivation from hay fever attacks, but you may be able to cut down on those medications, and lessening the amount of unnecessary chemicals in your body is always a good thing!
By Ramie A. Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT