8 Tips to Fight Fall Allergies
- Fight Fall AllergiesIf you are one of the 10 to 20% of Americans with a ragweed allergy, fall may be more about a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing than autumn leaves and Halloween fun with the kids. Mold is another allergy that may be worse in the fall. Unlike pollens, mold does not go away with the first frost and may collect in fallen leaves. If you have a mold allergy, you are also more likely to be allergic to year-round, indoor allergens like dust and animal dander. Here are eight tips to fight fall allergies.
- 1. Avoid ragweed outside.Ragweed releases its pollen in the late summer and fall as nights grow longer. The highest pollen counts are shortly after dawn. Check the pollen counts regularly in your area by listening to your local news, or call the National Allergy Bureau at 800-9-POLLEN. When the pollen count is high, avoid going outside as much as possible, especially in the morning and on dry, warmer days.
- 2. Keep ragweed outside.Create a safe haven in your home by keeping your air conditioning going for as long as possible and keeping all your windows closed. That includes your car windows when you're driving. The best type of air conditioner for fighting pollen is central air with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attachment. Pets are allergen magnets, so limit their time outdoors and bathe them frequently.
- 3. Keep outside mold away from your house.Outdoor molds grow in leaf piles, rotting logs, and compost heaps. Remove all dead vegetation from around the perimeter of your house and make sure that water from rain gutters can run away from your foundation. When you are outside doing fall cleanup chores, make sure to wear a mask. Be sure to take off your work clothes before coming inside and wash them right away.
- 4. Root out indoor mold.Indoor molds love damp areas, so basements, bathrooms, laundry areas, and kitchens are among their favorite places. Always look for any leaks under sinks and around appliances and repair them promptly. Get rid of any old, damp carpeting. Clean any mold you find on walls or inside cabinets with one ounce of laundry bleach added to one quart of water. After cleaning, make sure the surface is dry.
- 5. Improve indoor air quality.Air conditioning with a HEPA filter is good for fighting mold and ragweed as well as dust and dander. Mold grows best when your indoor humidity goes above 50%. You can buy a hygrometer to measure indoor humidity and try to keep it below 45%. To cut down on moisture, make sure you have an exhaust fan in the bathroom to use after you bathe or shower. If your basement is damp, run a dehumidifier and make sure to drain it regularly.
- 6. Clean smart to fight allergies.A broom won't work for allergy house cleaning. You want to use a wet mop, a damp dust cloth, and a really good vacuum cleaner. To keep from sending more mold spores, dust, pollen, and dander into the air, use a cyclonic vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Vacuum the floors as well as the furniture and drapes. If you are the one with allergies, wear a mask when you clean and leave the house for about 30 minutes when you are finished cleaning to avoid any airborne particles.
- 7. Focus on the bedroom.Because you and your family spend a third of your lives asleep in bed, these are the rooms you really want to keep allergy-free. Start by keeping all pets out of bedrooms. Cuddly as they are, the furry creatures can bring in mold and ragweed from the outside along with their animal dander. Mold and dust mites can live in bedding, so make sure to cover your mattress and pillow with allergy-resistant covers. Eliminate heavy fabrics in drapes and bedcovers. Wash your bedding once a week in 130-degree hot water to kill dust mites, and add bleach to kill mold; then, dry everything at high heat.
- 8. Don't forget about cockroaches.A recent study found that a cockroach allergy was more common in children who live in urban areas than allergies to cats or dust mites. Studies have linked asthma attacks to kids staying indoors more often, which can be expected in fall and winter. Cockroaches may be present in up to 98% of urban housing and are also common in rural areas. For every cockroach you see, there can be about a thousand or more lurking around the home. To wipe out this allergen, you'll probably need help from a professional exterminator.
8 Tips to Fight Fall Allergies