How to Fight Fall Allergies

By: USA Today Weekend
By: USA Today Weekend

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You thought they would be gone by now, right? But those allergies that have been torturing you since the end of summer are still around. Recently, a USDA-led study found that ragweed pollen is lingering up to 27 days longer than it did in the mid-1990s.

The reason? Climate change, researchers say. Warmer temperatures promote longer blooming seasons for allergen-producing plants such as ragweed. Up to 20% of Americans are sensitive to ragweed, and there’s no cure for ragweed allergy. But you can ease symptoms by taking these steps:

Keep windows closed.

Ragweed pollen is particularly light; it can travel up to 400 miles. So the pollen that’s riding the breeze into your home can make symptoms worse. The same is true when you’re driving: Crank up the AC to help filter and dry the air.

Keep up on pollen counts.

Find current pollen level readings in your area at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau. Pollen levels peak in midday.

Shower before bedtime.

Pollen can stick to your hair and skin. If you spent the day outside, shower before sleep so you don’t transfer the allergens to your pillow and bedsheets.

Flush pollen from your nose.

The thought of pouring warm saltwater up one nostril to watch it flow out the other may not sound like fun, but neti pots really do work — they rinse your nasal cavity of allergens and help you breathe easier. Research shows they’re just as effective as some medications at relieving symptoms, minus the side effects.

How are fall allergies affecting you?

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