Summer is ending, you’re heading into fall. But you’re still sneezing and sniffling all day and into the night. What’s going on?
Odds are you’re among the 10% to 30% of Americans who suffer from hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. And most cases of hay fever are caused by an allergy to fall pollen from plants belonging to the genus Ambrosia -- more commonly known as ragweed.
People with tree pollen allergies sometimes assume that trees with colorful flowers -- like apple or cherry trees -- will trigger their symptoms. But flowering trees usually have bigger, stickier pollen that doesn't blow in the wind or cause symptoms.
3 Things That Make It Worse
1. Warm, windy days. Wind picks up dry pollen and sends it into the air. When it's cold or damp, pollen counts are usually lower.
2. Certain fruits and vegetables. If you have nasal allergies to certain trees, you have a higher risk of allergic symptoms from some of these foods. For instance, if you're allergic to birch trees, you may get itchiness or swelling in your mouth or around your face after eating almonds, apples, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears, or plums.
3. Having trigger trees in your yard. How close you live to a tree makes a big difference. When one's in your own yard, it could expose you to 10 times as much pollen as a tree down the street.
Tips to Manage Your Allergy
Get tested. It's important to know which trees trigger your allergies. Once you do, you can figure out how to avoid their pollen.
Avoid contact. It’s simple: Stay inside when pollen counts are high. Keep your windows shut. Wear a mask if you need to work outside.
Remove trigger trees. If one in your yard clearly causes symptoms, prune back the branches to reduce the amount of pollen it releases. You could also take it out and replace it with one that’s less likely to cause allergies, like apple, cherry, dogwood, fir, or pine trees.
Treat it. Medicine -- both OTC and prescription -- can ease or prevent allergy symptoms. Allergy shots and other forms of “immunotherapy” can also make a difference.