Monday, September 23, 2013

Dealing with Fall Allergies

I thought fall would never get here this year! It's been a long, hot summer. Fall is by far my favorite season – the changing leaves, cooler weather and pumpkin-spice-everything make my heart happy.

I’m not sure the rest of my family shares my sentiment, though. My boys and husband suffer this time of year with sneezing, runny noses and stuffiness. (Actually they suffer year-round, but fall seems to be particularly bad.) It doesn’t help that the Dallas area recently earned #18 on the 2013 list of top U.S. cities with the worst fall allergies.

Dr. Mudita Shah, allergist on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, says research suggests climate changes have caused nasal allergy during the ragweed pollen season – also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis – to last up to three weeks longer than it used to.

“In North Texas there is a longer and warmer summer, spring, winter, and fall that allows for more pollination,” Dr. Shah said. “Also, we get cedar pollen here. It’s one of the few places in the U.S. where there are winter pollinating trees, so it’s all year round.”

What can families do about allergies? Dr. Shah's advice:

•    Keep windows and doors closed.
•    Stay indoors between 5-10 am, the peak pollen time.

•    Use prescription nasal sprays (avoid over-the-counter nasal sprays, they tend to be addictive).
•    Take an over-the-counter 24-hour non-drowsy antihistamine, which is well tolerated by most people.
•    If prescription nasal sprays and over-the-counter medicines don't work, see a board certified allergist for an evaluation. You may be suffering from multiple issues, such as nasal allergies plus asthma.

My boys get some relief from the over-the-counter medications and I feel blessed that's all they need. Here's hoping your family can enjoy the gorgeous weather outside sneeze free!

Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources, Stepmom to a teen, and Mom to a toddler.

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