Itchy eyes, runny nose, lots of sneezing -- yup, it's bad news for those of you who suffer during allergy season.
Record high ragweed counts plus mold in the air from the recent wet weather will add up to the worst, and longest, fall allergy season yet, say allergy experts.
"We're going to have an allergy double whammy," Clifford Bassett, MD, director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, told ABC News.
Fall's typical ragweed pollen levels are already high, and the standing water from the summer floods and Hurricane Irene has increased the amount of airborne mold, a common year-round allergen.
To make matters worse, this allergy season is expected to last a few weeks longer than usual, according to research published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A team of researchers has found that increased warming, particularly in the northern half of North America, has added weeks to the fall pollen season by delaying the first frost that normally kills the ragweed.
The rising temperatures have also produced a similar lengthening of the spring allergy season, which is now starting about a month earlier than it did decades ago.
This news is nothing to sneeze at. About 35 million Americans suffer from nasal allergies -- or hay fever -- according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Doctors also warn that as we age, allergies can become more of a health problem, including triggering bouts of asthma.
Those taking prescription medication for blood pressure need to be careful taking over-the-counter allergy medication for relief. Decongestants can affect the heart.
Men with prostate problems also need to be cautious about using antihistamines and decongestants, which can cause urinary problems.
Here are some simple ways to reduce hay fever symptoms by limiting your exposure to pollen and mold:
*Close doors and windows during pollen season.
* Use air conditioning in your house and car to filter allergens; use a HEPA air filter in your bedroom.
*Use a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
*Avoid going out in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
*Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves, which stirs up pollen and mold.
*Wear a dust mask when doing outdoor chores or gardening.
- 5 spring allergy offenders
- Is it a cold or allergies? Check your symptoms
- 10 tips to reduce your exposure to pollen
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