October is one of the greatest months in the north Houston area as far as weather is concerned. However, the pollen counts that come with this weather can wreak havoc on your respiratory system, leaving you hoping to stay indoors instead of being outside enjoying the cooler temperatures and sunshine.
Outdoor mold is a common allergen in the fall. Due to Hurricane Harvey, the dampness from the flooding and week of heavy rain has caused these mold spores to be much higher than usual. In The Woodlands, current tree and weed pollen levels are in the “heavy” range – meaning there are over 50 or more pollen spores per cubic meter of air.
While this sounds pretty technical, think of it this way, the chances of you breathing in these pollen spores get higher and higher as the count increases. Once the spores are in your respiratory system (usually trapped in your nasal passages and sinuses), they begin to invade your immune system. Your body mistakenly thinks these spores are dangerous viruses and it releases histamines to fight them, which result in a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
One way to combat these allergy symptoms is to take an antihistamine medication. The problem with antihistamines is that they can cause drowsiness and usually must be taken regularly to be effective. Most take a few days to “kick in” so you might not get relief right away.
Another alternative is to use a product like a nasal rinse or Neti pot – a small device that you use to wash out your sinuses with saline. Neti pots are very effective and some people claim to have fewer colds and sinus infections when using them regularly. They provide temporary relief for your runny nose and help wash away pollen spores.
Other quick tips to help relieve allergies is to change your home’s air filters, wear a mask when gardening or doing yard work, wear sunglasses or protective glasses to keep pollen out of your eyes, and bathe pets to remove pollen from their fur.