If you've been sneezing your way through August, ragweed may be the culprit.
Ragweed season usually starts around mid-August and tends to torment allergy sufferers until the first frost sets in. Because ragweed counts are the highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. on hot, dry and windy days, consider avoiding outdoor activities during that time, says an expert from the Saint Louis University Medical Center.
Seasonal allergy triggers abound, and knowing which ones affect you can help you avoid them to reduce the risk of annoying symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose and itchy eyes, Dr. James Temprano, assistant professor of internal medicine at the university, said in a university news release.
If you're not sure what's causing the problem, consider a skin test to determine which allergens are affecting you, Temprano suggested. For these tests, he said, doctors place small amounts of various allergens on or below the surface of your skin and watch for any reactions.
Once your seasonal allergies (such as ragweed, pollen and grass) are pinpointed, you'll know when you're most likely to experience symptoms and need to take preventive measures, such as keeping your windows closed.
Temprano offered these additional tips for other seasonal allergies:
- Grass allergies usually begin in May or June (but can appear earlier) and last most of the summer. Keep your windows shut in order to minimize your exposure.
- In the winter, when indoor allergies caused by dust mites and pet dander emerge, wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry using a high heat setting.
- If you are plagued by tree pollen allergies -- which typically begin in late February or early March and continue through May -- change your clothes and wash your hair after spending time outdoors.
Temprano added that if prevention doesn't work, you may want to talk with your doctor about allergy medications or immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. (HealthDay News, August 2010)
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more about allergic reactions.
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