Washington: With summer coming to a close, and kids heading back to school and preparation for fall begins, we shouldn't forget to consider fall allergies.
An estimated 35 million Americans suffer from allergies, which in the fall begin in late August and peak in September.
For those with fall allergies, three triggers typically occur - ragweed, indoor allergens and infections.
"During the summer, people experience the lowest incidence of allergies and asthma so they feel better and stop taking their allergy medications. But they should start taking them again in early September to prevent symptoms before they start," David Rosenstreich, M.D., director of the allergy and immunology division at Montefiore Medical Center, said.
"If allergy sufferers make the mistake of waiting until after their symptoms are in full swing, it's much harder to stop the allergic reaction than to prevent it from even beginning," he said.
One of the biggest culprits for fall allergies is ragweed.
In the fall, ragweed releases pollen into the air and this continues until frost kills the plant closer to winter.
Most prevalent in the Eastern and Midwest states, ragweed causes an allergic reaction commonly called hay fever and results in symptoms that include itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, tearing or dark circles under the eyes.
An allergy symptom is the result of the immune system overreacting.
Another trigger for allergies during the fall is due to people staying indoors more and they are therefore exposed to allergens like pet dander, dust and mold.
Several precautions to consider includes maintaining an allergen free environment at home, focus on your bedroom: keep your pets out, eliminate the rug because it collects dust and avoid feather pillows.
Make sure the fireplace is well-ventilated and be careful of any leakage and keep basement and bathroom dry to avoid mold growing in these damp areas of the house. Have your heating system cleaned to avoid dust mites when you first turn on the heat.
The third trigger is infections and the flu, which affect the body's immune system and cause it to release antibodies and histamines to fight them off.
The flu vaccine is recommended to help reduce the risk of getting sick, but it's even more important for people who suffer from asthma or other lung conditions.