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Ragweed, mold common problems for allergy sufferers

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There’s a lot to look forward to in the fall, but if you suffer from fall allergies, it can be hard to enjoy the season.

Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, starts with cold-like symptoms. Unlike a cold that goes away within a week, hay fever lingers until the cause of the allergic reaction is identified and treated. One of the most common causes, especially during the fall allergy season, is ragweed. Ragweed begins to pollinate in mid-August and sticks around until a hard freeze.

Mold can cause problems for allergy sufferers any time of the year, but a warmer-than-normal fall, high humidity or windy conditions can allow mold spores to be released into the air for an extended period of time.

Raking leaves, a common fall chore, can also stir up mold and pollen in the ground. Allergy sufferers who rake their yard can use an N-95 respirator mask when raking leaves to lessen the impacts of allergens. Children who have allergies should avoid jumping or playing in leaves.

Many indoor allergies can worsen in the fall, as you stay inside more. While you can’t get rid of all the allergens in your home, you can minimize them. Here are some tips:

Wash your sheets weekly in hot water and your blankets every two to three weeks to kill dust mites.

Replace pillows every two to three years.

Encase your mattress, pillows and other padded furniture with allergen-proof covers.

Sometimes signs of allergies aren’t straightforward as it can be hard to distinguish an allergy from the common cold. This is especially true with children. If you or your child has cold symptoms that last more than a week or seem to occur at the same time every year, you may want to talk with your health care provider about it. Only a certified health care provider can truly diagnose allergies and prescribe treatments.

Source: Nicole Peritore, senior extension specialist

More information on healthy living is available at the Carroll County Extension office.

Cathy Jansen is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to cathy.jansen@uky.edu.