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Steps To Control Fall Allergy Symptoms

Don't let fall pollen rule your life. You can be the boss with environmental and personal controls. This month's newsletter, Steps To Control Fall Allergy Symptoms, gives you many doctor-recommended ways to help relieve allergy symptoms caused by pollen.


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National Allergy E-Mail Newsletter
Steps To Control Fall Allergy Symptoms

Fighting fall allergies can be a daunting task, especially when you feel lousy already. A lot of people suffer this time of year from tree and weed pollens, ragweed in particular. You may be fairly certain that pollen is the source of your distress - either you have been to your doctor for allergy testing or you know from experience. The good news is that you have some control over pollen allergy. Allergy and asthma doctors recommend using environmental controls and personal controls, often in conjunction with medication or allergy shots. Fighting fall allergies is one of those "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" kind of things - the more you do, the better the results.

As you read through this newsletter, you will come to words you can click that will take you to a list of suggested products for pollen allergy relief.

Environmental Controls

So you heard from the doctor or read an article in a magazine that says to use environmental controls, and you say, What's that? Environmental controls are ways that allergy symptoms can be controlled by making changes in your environment - it makes sense when you understand. Environmental controls include avoidance (keeping the allergen out of your home and preventing personal contact) and filtration (getting rid of the allergen that does get in).

Avoiding pollen completely would require living in a bubble, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure. Wearing a mask outdoors can help because at some point you are going to have to leave the safety of your home, even if it is only to get to your car. You may feel odd at first, but wearing a mask is the only way to filter the air outdoors. If you look around, the number of people wearing masks is increasing all the time. Depending on the severity of your allergy to ragweed and other pollen, you may choose to wear a mask from the house to the car or you may feel like you only need a mask when you are going to be outdoors for a while. If you are walking the dog, cutting the grass, working in the yard, or watching a sporting event, a mask can save you a lot of misery.

Other tips for pollen avoidance:
  1. Keep windows closed in your house and car.
  2. Wipe off your pet when it comes indoors and bathe your pet frequently.
  3. When you get home, especially if you have been outdoors for an extended period, take a shower, wash your hair and throw your clothes in the laundry or a closed hamper.
  4. Wipe your feet on a mat before entering the house.
  5. Check the pollen count in your area as a guide to know if you should stay inside that day. The National Allergy Bureau is a good place to check pollen (and mold spore) counts.
  6. If possible, choose the time of day to be outdoors. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, ragweed pollen peaks from around noon to early afternoon. Therefore, it is best to plan outdoor activities for early morning or late evening.
-HEPA Filtration
HEPA filtration is a key environmental control. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters were developed in the 1940's to protect scientists from radioactive dust. HEPA filters have been used by NASA, in hospital operating rooms, in the electronics industry and anywhere a clean room environment is needed. As with a lot of inventions, the general public has benefited from affordable home models.

To be called HEPA, a filter must capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger. That sounds good, but how big is a micron? Even a particle 10 microns big is invisible to the naked eye. The 99.97% comes from the premise that if all particles passing through the filter were 0.3 microns in size, only 3 of 10,000 would make it back into the air. A HEPA filter will actually capture 100% of pollen particles passing through it since they are between 5 - 100 microns in size. That is why it is important to look for true HEPA filtration rather than HEPA-type or HEPA-like.

For people with allergies or asthma, HEPA air purifiers and HEPA vacuum cleaners can make a huge difference. With an air cleaner, it is recommended that the air in the room be pulled through the filter 6 times every hour. So it's important to choose an air purifier based on the size of the room where it will be used. That is also why it is necessary to have a fan in an air purifier to move the air even though it makes some noise. Vacuuming frequently with a HEPA vacuum traps particles that have settled to the floor since air purifiers can only capture what is airborne. HEPA filtration is one of the most effective ways to control your environment.

-Other Filtration
Although HEPA filtration is great, there are other ways to filter the air that protect you from pollen, too. Using an allergen reduction furnace filter removes pollen and other particles from the air forced through your heating or air conditioning system. Some people prefer the disposable filters and others like a permanent filter. Either is good as long as you replace the disposable filter every 3 months or wash the permanent filter every month. Then to catch what may be coming out of the ducts, you can cover the vents in your bedroom and family room with vent filtration material. Having your ducts cleaned is generally not recommended unless you can see that excessive amounts of dust and debris have collected in the ductwork.

Personal Controls

-Nasal Irrigation
If you have never heard of nasal irrigation, you must be wondering what in the world it is. Irrigation is the process of causing a saline solution to flow through your sinus cavities and nasal passages to wash out pollen and other particulate debris that could lead to nasal and sinus irritation, inflammation, or infection. Nasal irrigation has been used for centuries through a wide variety of methods - everything from sniffing salt water from the cupped hand to the use of infant bulb syringes (which we do not recommend as mold can and probably will grow in the bulb). A study took a look at three methods of irrigation, and concluded that the "distribution of contrast solution was more uniform using positive-pressure irrigation". This simply means that the irrigation solution that was gently propelled or squirted into the nose (rather than sniffed or poured in) covered more area (and presumably gave more benefit) than other methods. Read more about the benefits of nasal irrigation here.

-Other Nasal/Sinus Relief
Some allergy/sinus sufferers find additional relief from nasal sprays that can keep the areas moisturized or fight bacteria. In addition, using steam to loosen mucus is often helpful.

Medication & Immunotherapy

Your doctor may give you a prescription for allergy medicine or recommend an over-the-counter medicine in addition to environmental and personal controls. The Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America states that antihistamines and decongestants are the most common medicines used for allergies. There are many choices of allergy medications, and your doctor knows which one will be the best for you. Your doctor may also recommend immunotherapy (allergy shots). A comprehensive plan developed with your doctor will give you the best results in the fight against fall pollen allergy symptoms.

Products Recommended For Relief

As with most important projects, getting started is half the battle. If your allergy symptoms are driving you to search for relief, these products, based on the recommendations above, may help.

Avoid Pollen Outdoors With A Mask
Good Choices: Masks

Clean Your Home's Air With A HEPA Air Purifier
Good Choices: HEPA Air Purifiers

Vacuum Pollen That Has Settled To The Floor
Good Choices: HEPA Vacuums

Filter Pollen From Your Home
Good Choices:
Whole House Filtration

Wipe Or Bathe Your Pet To Remove Hitchhiking Pollen
Good Choices: Pet Products

Wash Pollen Out Of Your Clothes
Good Choices: Laundry Detergents

Nasal Irrigation Washes Away Pollen
Good Choices: Nasal Irrigation

Nasal Sprays Can Give Relief
Good Choices: Nasal Sprays

National Allergy E-Mail Newsletter To order by phone, call us any time - 24/7. For expert care and answers to specific product-related questions, call one of our experienced customer service representatives to guide you through the options for allergy, asthma and sinus relief at 1-800-522-1448 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:30 pm Eastern Time. You can also e-mail us at
National Allergy E-Mail Newsletter The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor first about your specific condition, treatment options and other health concerns you may have.


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