Every season has particular triggers and conditions that contribute to an uptick in allergy and asthma symptoms for a lot of people. Depending on your level of preparedness, you might ride through that season relatively unscathed…or you might be buying bulk boxes of Kleenex. Even more troublesome can be increased asthma attacks due to these triggers and conditions; if an asthmatic is unable to get control of their breathing with an inhaler or nebulizer, they may find themselves in the ER seeking relief. That is both a scary – and costly – reality.
Knowledge and planning, however, can alleviate some of the discomfort and suffering those with allergies and asthma often experience. Carefully crafting the conditions of your primary indoor environment can go a long way in reducing outbreaks, as can visiting with your primary care physician to discuss possible medicinal precautions, like starting a regimen of antihistamines prior to the start of allergy season.
So what are some of the things to watch out for this fall if you’re prone to asthma, allergies or other respiratory challenges? We’ve compiled some facts, figures and helpful tips that can make a difference for you this fall.
It’s all about the ragweed.
Ragweed causes what’s known as hay fever, and from mid August until October, it can wreak havoc on those who are allergic to it. Symptoms include sneezing, runny and/or stuffy nose, and itchy, watery eyes.
It’s not just what’s in the air…it’s the changes in the weather.
Frequent travelers might be familiar with this phenomenon. Changes in temperature and humidity can actually trigger asthma attacks. Low humidity can dry out the mucous membranes, which can then lead to inflammation. Cold, dry air causes the lining of the nose to become swollen, which then makes it stuffy and runny.
Outdoor air isn’t the only offender.
In colder months, it’s common for indoor humidity levels to fall, which can exacerbate allergy and asthma symptoms. Ideal humidity levels for indoor environments is 35 – 50%, but many home and offices can be as low as 16%. In these cases, it may be necessary to use a humidifier to add moisture back into the air.
But too much moisture can result in mold spores, which are at high levels in the fall.
Mold spores are released in autumn, and become more common outdoors as piles of wet, decaying leaves and other vegetation fall to the ground. High mold counts can also contribute to breathing problems for asthmatics.[2
Remember: fall is not only allergy season, it’s also virus season.
The chances of contracting a cold or the flu increases, so make sure you keep an eye on your symptoms to ensure it’s only allergies and not something more serious like an infection.
Controlling your indoor air quality with an air purifier can help.
Removing dust, allergens, dust mites and odor from the air you breathe can make a noticeable difference for both allergy and asthma sufferers, and a good, quality air purifier can accomplish that.
So does vacuuming regularly.
Vacuuming and cleaning the house often to keep dust mites, pet dander or other indoor allergy triggers under control may help alleviate discomfort, according to the NIH.