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Feeling those unseen autumn allergens

Friday, October 21, 2022

We all love the changing colors of the leaves -a sure sign of autumn. Allergies are also another sign.

“Ragweed, leaf mold, and dust mites are the common triggers or autumn allergies – and you might not even know they are around,” said Ashtabula County Medical Center Ear, Nose, & Throat physician assistant Cheryl Katavich, PA-C.

Ragweed releases its pollen in the cooler weather and the increased storms we experience in early fall can blow the pollen for miles.

Another major allergen in the autumn is mold – particularly leaf mold, which is hidden beneath the wet, fallen leaves. Keeping leaves bagged for disposal or mulched into your yard can help reduce the presence of mold, but may not eliminate it entirely, especially for those who compost leaves and grass.

The cold weather of late autumn does reduce some of these allergens, but it also contributes to our misery in other ways.

“When we head indoors to avoid the colder temperatures, we’re entering another area that allergens accumulate,” Katavich said. “Dust mites and pet dander build up and can be spread throughout the house when we turn on the furnace.”

Dust mites die off when temperatures become chilly, and the humidity level drops below 70. The bad news is our warm homes help keep them active. When we’re indoors, we’re also exposed more to pet dander.

“Frequently cleaning your home, changing the furnace air filters, using high efficiency particle air filters or even an air purifier can help remove these allergens from your home – but it’s a constant battle. Don’t just do a deep fall cleaning and then wait until spring. Keep it up throughout fall and winter,” Katavich said.

To stay on top of dust mites and pet dander:

  • Change bedding: Wash in hot water once a week.
  • Use mattress covers: Dust-proof covers on mattresses and pillows keep dust away from your face and head.
  • Lower the humidity: Either use a dehumidifier or open the windows at least an hour each day.
  • Vacuum & dust frequently: Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency filter. Keep floors and furniture free of dust. To keep dust from flying around, use a damp mop or cloth. Those with severe allergies should consider wearing a mask while cleaning.

ACMC Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists offer personalized treatment plans for allergy sufferers, including allergy shots for times when over-the-counter medication is no longer effective. They help alleviate symptoms for outdoor or indoor allergens. Each allergy shot is customized to the patient’s unique allergen profile.

To talk with an ACMC Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist about allergies, schedule an appointment by calling 440-997-6960.