Attack of the Autumn Allergies
Wx and the City
Sniff, sniff (cough). Achoo! (Rub eyes.) Sniff, sniff (blow nose). Achoo!
If this has been your morning routine for the past few weeks, you may be suffering from fall allergies. With today's windy conditions, it's not a good day for allergy sufferers to be spending time outside.
On Monday, several Capital Weather Gang readers expressed their concerns about fall allergies:
jojo2008: I've had some terrible allergies for the past 2-3 weeks. My nostrils are clogged at night and I wake up with a sore throat ... And, we're not having those days where cars are covered in pollen.
authorofpoetry: I have a 20-month old son who is constantly rubbing his left eye ... I never really attributed serious allergies to the fall season but I guess I was wrong.
spgass1: I made a small contribution to allergy sufferers by uprooting some ragweed last Friday.
Bombo47jea: I tend to have allergy issues in the spring and fall with three possible culprits (1) ragweed, etc. (2) mold and (3) fall blooming elms ... Mold is likely the main culprit except for those sensitive to ragweed.
In the D.C. area, fall allergies are usually the result of ragweed pollen or mold spores. Weed pollen may not be as visible as the more familiar car-coating tree pollen of spring and early summer, but it is still sneakily surfing around the autumn air, entering our respiratory tracts and causing sinusitis and rhinitis (including eye irritation) in people prone to allergic reactions. Most hay fever symptoms are caused by ragweed pollen.
Fall is a great time to reproduce ... if you're a weed or a mold. After maturing from late summer to early fall, a single ragweed plant can release up to one billion pollen grains. In urban areas, peak pollen production occurs from late morning to mid-afternoon. Weather can affect this process: rain and low morning temperatures slow it down. Also, rain or mild temperatures throughout the winter months can lead to increased pollen production in the spring.
Windy, warm and dry weather is especially effective at dispersing both weed pollen and mold spores -- ragweed pollen have been found 400 miles out to sea and two miles high in the atmosphere. Mold spores can also travel through the air. Outdoor molds peak from July to October
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, "allergic diseases affect as many as 40 to 50 million Americans." Baltimore, Richmond and Washington, D.C., all fall within the top 100 most challenging places to live with allergies. As of October 5, the National Allergy Bureau Pollen and Mold Report indicated that pollen from trees, weeds and grass were measured in low concentrations in the District, while mold was present in moderate concentrations (view reports from other states).
Though allergy sufferers can't control the weather, they can reduce their chances for inhaling airborne allergens this fall. Here are some useful tips from Earth Gauge:
- Minimize your outdoor activity in the early morning (and mid-day if you live in an urban area), when pollens are usually emitted, and avoid raking leaves or cutting grass, which can stir up pollens.
- While it may be tempting to open windows on cool nights, keeping them closed can reduce pollen concentrations inside your home.
- Don't hang laundry items outside to dry, where pollens and molds can collect on them.
In addition, you can keep tabs on pollen and mold counts with the National Allergy Bureau.
For those of you who are currently suffering from allergies and need to lighten up your day, try playing this: Don't Blow It.
- 12 Common Fall Allergies & How to Ease Symptoms
- Tips for Ragweed Allergy
- Your Allergies & The Weather
- Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergens
| October 7, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories: Health, Posegate, Wx and the City
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