Raking leaves can trigger a major sneezing attack for people with allergic rhinitis. The dry and damp leaves are a haven for mold and ragweed.
Fall allergies are hitting Ashley Muller pretty hard. She has post-nasal drip, sinus congestion and itchy eyes. "It's very horrible," said Muller who lives in Manhattan Beach. "Yesterday I was cleaning out the cabinets at my mom's house and I sneezed about 55 times."
Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, who is an allergist, says the soot from fires plus the long-lingering hot weather and recent rains are poised to make this season one of the worst ever.
"Ragweed actually can become more potent and can stick around longer, causing misery for people with fall allergies," Marks-Cogan said.
The dry winds we've been having also fuel the production of mold and pollen. If you're going to be doing yard work, especially if you're clearing leaves, Marks-Cogan suggests you wear a mask. "I encourage you to wear a NIOSH-rated N95 mask, which can actually filter out airborne particles," she said.
She also advises closing your doors and windows, investing in a HEPA filter and using the recycled air option while in your car. Another tip she offers is to check pollen and mold counts before heading outdoors.
"A Neti Pot or sinus rinse can help clear out the nasal passages," Dr. Marks-Cogan said. This can help with congestion and post-nasal drip. She also recommends trying over-the-counter steroids, nasal sprays and oral antihistamines.
If symptoms persist, she says to seek an allergist's care to create a customized medical plan for you. "They may even recommend allergy shots, which is really the closest thing we have to a cure," she said.
"I do take shots," Muller said. "I was coming in three times a week and now I'm on maintenance once a week." She has 14 more weeks to go and Muller said she's had much fewer sinus infections. "It's like night and day."