Allergist Dr. Leiana Oswald says about one in every four Iowans have seasonal allergies which are spiking now as the leaves start to change color and drop.
“While we know that about 76% are going to experience symptoms in the spring, fall is the next most common allergy season,” Dr. Oswald says. “There’s a lot of change in season, a lot of change in pollen counts and a change in the weather often, which for patients who suffer from seasonal allergies, it can start those symptoms up.”
On the plus side, it’s much easier and cheaper now to keep seasonal allergies under control with medication.
“Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of shifts of medicines go over the counter,” Oswald says. “You used to have to get prescriptions from your doctor. Now, patients are able to access these over the counter in the pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail outlets.”
It may be difficult on sunny fall days when temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, but staying inside can be a big help for allergy sufferers.
“The #1 tip for seasonal allergies is to avoid the allergen,” Oswald says. “Everybody has to breathe, so that’s difficult to do, but if you can limit your time outside, keep your windows closed when pollen counts are up. The average consumer can use Google now to check pollen counts by typing their city and the words “pollen count” afterwards, to know if those counts are going to be higher.”
She suggests making an effort to keep your clothes pollen-free and to shower often. Avoid drying clothes on a line outside as pollen like ragweed can stick to them. Change your clothes after you’ve been outside. Taking a shower before bed will also help keep allergens out of your hair, off your body and out of your bed.