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Prepare for Seasonal Allergies Before They Hit

August 16th, 2017 | 2 min. read

By Mark Petrizzi, M.D.

One of our PartnerMD offices is located in the lovely and historic Richmond, Virginia. The city is known for its vibrant culture, history … and seasonal allergies? According to a report by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, Richmond tops the list as America’s “sneeziest and wheeziest” city. Seasonal allergies plague the entire East Coast though.

There’s no need to suffer allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes and nasal congestion when you could be enjoying all that your city has to offer. This year, prevent seasonal allergies before they hit.

Common Fall Seasonal Allergies

Common fall seasonal allergies include both indoor and outdoor allergens.

Outdoors, ragweed pollen strikes many seasonal allergy sufferers. Ragweed pollen reaches its peak in mid-September. Indoors, dust mites allergies are generally worse as the weather starts to cool and heating units are turned on for the first time in several months. Mold spore allergies can affect allergy sufferers both indoors and outdoors, especially in warm and humid environments.

Unfortunately, especially in Virginia, the mild weather we love can also cause seasonal allergies to be not so seasonal. Seasonal allergy symptoms might be experienced year-round; in a temperate climate, trees, grasses, and weeds won’t experience a dormant period, causing them to produce pollens regardless of the season.

Start Treatment Before Symptoms Begin

There’s no need to panic though! You’re not doomed to suffer from seasonal allergies forever. The best way to manage seasonal allergy symptoms is to stop them before they begin. If you know that you suffer from ragweed allergies every fall, don’t wait until mid-September when your symptoms are at their worst to begin treatment.

Always speak to your doctor before beginning any medication. Your physician may recommend that you start treating allergies about a month in advance with over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal corticosteroid sprays. Nasal steroid sprays, in particular, only prevent symptoms, so once you’ve developed allergy symptoms, the spray will not be as effective of a treatment.

Immunotherapy may work as a treatment for severe seasonal allergies, but because treatment can take between 3 - 5 years, your doctor will often recommend a more conservative line of treatment first.

Be Proactive

Besides beginning medication to treat allergy symptoms, there are some proactive measures you can take at home.

Read more: When Are Allergies a Medical Concern?

In the fall, it’s tempting to go on hayrides or jump in a big pile of crunchy leaves. However, if you suffer from ragweed allergies, try to avoid going outside when the pollen count is highest, typically on warm, breezy mornings, or just after a rain. Check your local weather, as many weather news channels and websites offer a daily pollen meter so you’ll be able to better prepare. If you must go outside during a high pollen time, shower and change your clothes as soon as you return home to remove any pollen that might try to sneak inside with you.

Prepare for Indoor Allergies

For indoor dust mite allergies, try to keep the house clean regularly, especially the bedroom. Wash all linens, including sheets, curtains to remove allergens from bedding. Additionally, make sure to wash the pillows regularly, and replace them every 2 - 3 years to prevent dust mite buildup.  

Mold can be prevented by checking your heating and cooling ductwork regularly, to ensure vents are clean. If your house gets damp, try running a dehumidifier. Additionally, you can purchase a mold test kit to see if your home needs professional mold removal.

Most importantly, be reasonable. You don’t have to go into early hibernation just because you suffer from seasonal allergies. With early treatment and proactive measures, you can prevent allergy symptoms before they begin.

Discuss Allergies with Your Doctor

Even if you know you suffer from a specific seasonal allergy, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor. You may notice that on certain days your seasonal allergies are much worse, seemingly without cause. Your doctor can help pinpoint the cause of your seasonal allergies and help you come up with a specific allergy management plan that works for you.

Perfect weather and pumpkin spice lattes are just a couple of reasons why people love fall. Don’t let seasonal allergies prevent you from enjoying the most popular season. Instead, consider an ounce of prevention with these tips to prevent allergy symptoms before they even start.

Mark Petrizzi, M.D.

As a board-certified family medicine physician at PartnerMD in Short Pump, VA, Dr. Mark Petrizzi went into family practice to treat his patients like family. For over 20 years as a board-certified family medicine and concierge doctor, Dr. Petrizzi has focused on providing holistic, preventive care to patients ages six and up. He enjoys being a part of your life and your journey to better health.