Follow this 7-part series to learn to better cope with Fall Allergies & Allergic Rhinitis.
Fall allergy season is on its way. For those with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) life can become miserable pretty quickly. With the arrival of all that beautiful fall color and cooler temperatures comes an increase in the 17 varieties of ragweed; three out of four people who are allergic to pollen are also allergic to ragweed.
Ragweed is a hardy annual and thrives in locations where turf grasses and other perennials haven’t taken root: particularly along riverbanks, in vacant lots, and on the side of the road.
One ragweed plant can produce an incredible one billion grains of pollen. And unfortunately, it doesn’t drop harmlessly to the ground; it tends to remain aloft in the breeze. Pollen has been found hundreds of miles out to sea and 10,000 feet up in the atmosphere.
Hay fever, like all allergies, is caused by a “glitch” in the body’s immune system. When normally harmful foreign substances like bacteria and viruses enter, the body tries to attack and neutralize them.
Unfortunately, the immune system in those with allergies reacts the same way to normally harmless substances like tiny weed pollen grains. The most intense period for this excess ragweed pollen activity is August through October, until the first frost. In the Atlanta area, the season may extend a bit longer because of our mild temperatures.
With all the pollen in the air in the autumn, what can hay fever sufferers do to reduce their misery?
The mainstream thinking is that allergy sufferers should avoid going outdoors during morning hours because pollen counts tend to be higher then. But not all doctors agree with that theory: one doctor reviewed a half-century of medical literature and concluded there is no proof that hay fever sufferers can minimize their symptoms by staying indoors during certain times of the day.
There are other effective ways to curb symptoms of hay fever that include avoidance strategies and medical treatment.
Follow our six proven strategies outlined below for relief from seasonal fall allergy symptoms.
Strategy 5: Rinse for Relief
Use a salt water solution to flush pollen from your nostrils and sinuses. Referred to as nasal douching, this can be quite effective at reducing hay fever symptoms (ask your allergist before attempting this). Even using a little saline nasal spray will help keep your sinuses open and remove excess pollen from your sinus cavities.
Nasal irrigation promotes good sinus and nasal health. Patients with chronic sinusitis are reported to find that nasal irrigation frequently provides a reduction in hay fever symptoms.
There are several types of products that can be used for nasal irrigation: a bulb syringe, a neti pot, or a squeeze bottle. In all three cases, the patient pours or sprays a mixture of water and salt into one nostril; the fluid then flows through the nasal cavity and into the other nostril. Higher-tech systems propel the salt water mixture into the nose and allow the patient to control the pressure.
Choosing a system is a matter of personal preference. Most important is finding a technique that the patient is willing to do.
Pros of Nasal Irrigation
The primary idea behind nasal irrigation is that is helps the patient’s body rid itself of irritating and infectious agents that end up in the nose. Nasal passages contain cilia, tiny hair-like elements that work to capture dirt, viruses, bacteria and other unwelcome substances before they enter the body.
The defense mechanism is designed to capture the foreign particles like flypaper, where they get pushed down the back of the throat and destroyed by stomach acid.
In an allergy patient of someone with a sinus infection, the consistency of the mucus becomes thicker, prevent the process from working properly. Nasal irrigation things out the mucus and helps the cilia do a better job removing bacteria and other irritants from the sinuses.
Nasal irrigation is a very effective way to reduce sinus symptoms. It works particularly well as a complement to other sinus treatments, such as antibiotics or steroids. It generally does a good job of reducing the amount of dry, thick or crusty mucus, allowing the cilia to do its job.
Cons of Nasal Irrigation
The process of nasal irrigation to clear blocked sinuses may be helpful, but a 2009 study by the American College of Allergy, asthma, and Immunology shows that it may be detrimental when used too frequently.
The study revealed that patients that performed an irrigation for a year, and then stopped using it, has a 62% lower occurrence of sinusitis during the year in which they stopped.
Nasal mucus performs a beneficial function to protect the body against infection, sort of a fist line of defense against foreign objects entering the body.
While it does help to thin or remove excessive mucus, saline may also work to dilute beneficial antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agents.
So an occasional nasal rinse, especially during seasons where pollen and other allergic materials are in high concentration, is beneficial. Just don’t over-do it. Generally it’s okay to rinse for one to three weeks; if your symptoms don’t improve during that time, we recommend you set an appointment with one of our doctors.
Top Allergy Doctors
For a complete evaluation of your symptoms and quick relief, schedule an appointment with Allergy & Asthma Consultants. We have five convenient offices in the metro Atlanta area with a variety of available times — even same day appointments.
Our medical staff includes three award winning, board-certified allergy doctors, each with more than 25 years experience: Dr. Paul S. Rabinowitz, Dr. Mark D. Livezey, and Dr. Glen L. Nadel.
More than just a motto, we believe we are Big enough to cure, small enough to care.
Call Allergy & Asthma Consultants today for the best allergy, asthma & immunology care.
Links to Other Parts of This Series
Part 1 Intro to Series
Strategy 1: Create a Pollen Free-Environment
Strategy 2: Wash Up
Strategies 3 & 4: Eliminate Allergy Foods and Cover Up
Strategy 5: Rinse for Relief
Strategy 6: Monitor Pollen Counts
Conclusion: Plan B