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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 10/ 7/2009

Attack of the Autumn Allergies

By Ann Posegate

Wx and the City

* Wind Advisory Today: Full Forecast | Winter Weather Hype is Here *

Image of ragweed pollen. Courtesy American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Sniff, sniff (cough). Achoo! (Rub eyes.) Sniff, sniff (blow nose). Achoo!

Ugh ...

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.

Other Resources:

By Ann Posegate  | October 7, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Health, Posegate, Wx and the City  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Gusty Winds Today, Gorgeous Tomorrow
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Thanks for a very good post. Now I know why I was sneezing this morning.

Posted by: Juan-John | October 7, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys. I'm not alone in this! I have to be out on my job a lot so indoor activity is out. Should I just wait for November to roll around? Or, will rain keep mold and ragweed down? I may have to join the "we need more rain" crowd, lol.

Posted by: jojo2008 | October 7, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

thank you for this- i know there are a ton of allergy sufferers out there...

Posted by: madisondc | October 7, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@jojo2008 - Rain would temporarily hamper ragweed pollen distribution, but increase mold growth. So, whether or not rain would help depends on what you're allergic to. Check out some of the additional resources above for tips on reducing allergy symptoms when going outdoors.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | October 7, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the suggestions above, those with mold and allergy concerns may want to check out the remarkable research on toxic mold removal done by environmental expert Dr Ed Close. Simply diffusing a therapeutic-grade essential oil regularly will likely result in an environment very hostile to mold, not to mention the health benefits, long-term protection, and simply making your home smell great. You might also consider using the Thieves Household Cleaner that Dr Close suggests for his remediation clients.

Posted by: toxicmoldtruth | October 8, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Is Your LIFE One Big SNEEZE ?

As a previous Allergy Sufferer > I found that a visit to my Prime Dr. for an Insurance Covered Enviro Allergy Blood Test > Identified my Offending Geo-Regional Seasonal & year-round allergens.

Then I began a NEW Form of ImmunoTherapy called Allergy Drops > Like SHOTs but No Ouch > Which Neutralize the SOURCE of my Allergy disease Vs taking a Lifetime of Med's which only mask my Symptoms.

Well... I'm into the protocol now ..and I have to say that I am beginning to feel allergy better...and I do not have the terrible side effects of those darm Allergy Med's.

I not only feel Allergy Better > but I also feel I about myself > I have have turned the Corner from being an Allergy Victim to an Anti-Allergy Advocate > I am now in control of my Life .. Not my Allergies.

Posted by: stephenhauer | October 9, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is different, consult your doctor/allergist, yadda yadda yadda, but.... Nasal lavage changed my life (as far as allergies are concerned, anyway). Put some salt in distilled water, and use a Neti pot or Waterpik to flush the water through your sinuses an wash out the allergens. Sinus infections were a common thing for me but no more. This is dirt cheap and has no side effects. Only took me five miserable years of going to various doctors and allergists before one suggested this approach....

Posted by: lese1 | October 11, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

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