Written by…Richard Pachucki, Price Chopper Pharmacy Intern, ACPHS PharmD Candidate 2016
Most people probably think of seasonal allergies as only appearing in the spring when the plants start blooming again but they can actually continue on straight through the fall. The biggest culprit of autumnal allergies is ragweed; its yellow flowers don’t bloom until this time of the year.1 Other offenders include mold that gathers on fallen leaves and dust mites that may be stirred up when you start your heat for the first time.1 There are a number of strategies you can use to help quell fall allergies.
One of the best approaches to reducing symptoms is by avoiding the allergens themselves. If your symptoms are triggered by outdoor allergens then keeping your windows closed can help reduce exposure to them. If you’ve been working outside, you and your clothes have been exposed to pollen in the air. By showering and/or changing your clothes you can reduce your allergen exposure. This idea also applies to any laundry that’s been hung outside. If you need to open your windows or work outside its best not to do so in the morning when pollen counts are the highest. 2,3
Before the weather starts to get cool and you need to turn your heat on it would be a good idea to clean your vents and change your HEPA filter.3 Throughout the spring and summer various allergens can accumulate in your vents and, if not for cleaning, would distribute throughout your home. Additionally, a HEPA filter can remove allergens such as pollen and mold from the air. Another strategy to help mitigate indoor allergens is to use a dehumidifier. Mold, in particular, thrives in a more humid climate.
Before considering using treatment for your allergy symptoms, please consult with your pharmacist or healthcare provider to help choose the best option for you. Options are available over-the-counter and can range from antihistamines to saline rinses and sprays. A few options exist for antihistamines, there are some non-drowsy formulations such as Allegra (fexofenadine), Claritin (loratadine), or Zyrtec (cetirizine). Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is another option but is often not preferred for daily use due to the drowsiness it may induce. These medications help with sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. If congestion is an issue, either oral or nasal decongestants such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) or Afrin (oxymetazoline) can help. If you’d prefer to avoid using medication another option exists. Saline in the form of a rinse or spray can help clear allergens from your nose.
It’s important to remember that avoiding contact with allergens in the first place is the best way to prevent symptoms. The other strategies mentioned may help to reduce your symptoms throughout allergy season.