Many of us are lauding the joys of fall, the pumpkin and cinnamon treats, the changing leaves, the cooler weather. But as anyone who suffers from allergies can tell you, these autumn days can be among the worst of the year when it comes to sneezing, itchy eyes, and sniffles.
The main culprit of fall allergies is ragweed. A WebMD article on the subject says:
Scientists estimate that a single ragweed plant can release one billion grains of pollen over the course of a single ragweed season. And the grains are so light that they float easily even on gentle breezes. Pollen has been detected as far as 400 miles out to sea and up to two miles up in the atmosphere.
Here are some ways you can help keep these microscopic nuisances out of your home:
- Take your shoes off at the door, or better yet, in a separate area that's not in your living zone, such as a garage or front porch. A much debated topic on Apartment Therapy, the fact remains that we track many allergens into our homes through our shoes. If you struggle with allergies, it's a practice worth considering.
- Stay indoors when the pollen count is high. This means trying to stay inside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and noting days that pollen counts are especially high. Check out pollen.com for the National Allergy Forecast. Arrange outdoor activities around high pollen count hours. For instance, stick to early evening outdoor dining over picnic lunches. Not only does this help minimize your exposure to ragweed pollen, but it helps prevent bringing too much pollen into your home through your clothes and hair.
- Time your showers. Since ragweed pollen is so lightweight and ubiquitous, it's going to get on your during allergy season, especially if you live in the Midwest or the Eastern states. So consider taking a shower right when you get home from work rather than the next morning. This is especially important for keeping the allergens out of your bed and your nighttime breathing zone.
- Watch those windows. As tempting as it is to let all that cool, fresh fall air into your home, realize that you're opening the window to much more than a breeze. At least make sure to observe high pollen count times of the day (see point above), and shut windows between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Consider long-term, year-round solutions. There are many ways to control the amount of allergens in your home, ragweed season or not. And if you or members of your family suffer from allergies, implementing environmental control of allergens can significantly improve your quality of life. Some long-term ways to reduce at-home allergens include investing in a high quality air purifier, minimizing carpeting, and choosing leather furniture.
What are your tips for controlling allergies?