Fall Allergies in Boston

Fall in Boston is beautiful: mild, comfortable temperatures combine with picturesque scenery. For those with allergies, Boston can be unpleasant; it ranks 91 among the top 100 worst cities for fall allergies, according to WebMD. Be prepared for the hidden allergens in Boston’s autumn landscape.

The Cause

Two main triggers are at play in the fall in Boston: ragweed pollen and mold. During the fall, male ragweed plants release pollen into the air, triggering allergic reactions. Increased dampness and decaying leaves and plant life encourage the growth of mold spores as well. When the pollen and mold spores interact with the human body, an allergy sufferer’s immune system “mistakenly sees them as foreign invaders and releases antibodies—substances that normally identify and go after bacteria, viruses and other illness-causing organisms,” according to WebMD.

The Symptoms

Allergies often present as nasal congestion, sniffling, wheezing, and itchy and watery eyes. They differ from a cold in that they will never cause a fever or vomiting. However, a rash and hives may appear on the skin. Allergy symptoms will last as long as the allergen is present, so a sufferer could face an entire autumn of discomfort without treatment. If symptoms are fleeting (only in one room or during a certain activity) or constant for weeks, they are most likely signs of allergies

The Treatment

The trouble with the fall season, particularly in Boston, is that much time is spent indoors, where allergens can become trapped. Outdoor factors like pollen and mold can attack allergy sufferers both outdoors and at home. Some slight lifestyle changes may be in order to get relief. Nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants or allergy shots may help to control the body’s reaction and curb your symptoms, but controlling exposure is the first step.

Indoor Prevention

To prevent excess pollen and mold within the home, close all windows and keep window sills clean. WebMD’s experts suggest filtrating the air with a high efficiency particulate air filter to remove pollen, mold, dust and other allergens from the air. Reduce mold production by keeping the humidity level in the home to 40 percent or lower and by cleaning all damp areas of the home, like kitchens and bathrooms, with bleach-containing agents. Always clean the heating filters before running the heat system, since mold spores, dust and pollen might accumulate there.

Outdoor Prevention

Outside the home, it may be more difficult to make significant changes, especially since fall in Boston can be very rainy and damp. In the yard and surrounding areas, take steps to reduce exposure to mold and pollen. Remove piles of damp leaves and yard waste, and do not keep a compost heap nearby, since these are mold-breeding grounds. Wear a mask to avoid inhaling allergens while working outdoors, and follow up with a shower to remove all allergens from the hair and skin. Always remove shoes and jackets when entering the home so that pollen and mold spores will not be spread throughout.

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