As the leaves finish falling and the temperature continues to drop, people everywhere are spending more time indoors. The board-certified allergists at Chattanooga Allergy Clinic say now is the time to get ready for those pesky perennial allergens that can be a pain during the winter months.
"Dust mites, mold, pet dander and hair are just a few things we find ourselves being exposed to more when it's cold and we start spending more time inside," explained Dr. Todd Levin.
He added that since the area experienced such a wet summer this year, the elevated mold counts now are a major factor to consider.
As with any allergen, avoidance is the first recommendation by the pros at Chattanooga Allergy Clinic. While that may not seem possible being cooped up inside with allergy triggers, Dr. Levin said there are actually several steps you can take to help ensure relief.
"We first have to know what you're allergic to, and from there we can make a plan that's best for the patient," he said. "The most important thing we try to do for all our patients is provide education. We want to make sure you understand your diagnosis, what's going on and how to prevent it."
There are tips and helpful hints available on the practice's website and Facebook page.
"Make sure you have dust mite covers for your pillows and mattress and wash all your bedding in very hot water at least once a week," Dr. Levin advised. "You also need to vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA filter."
He noted that when it comes to vacuuming or dusting, someone other than the person who suffers from the dust allergy should manage the task. If that's not possible, be sure to wear a face mask while doing the cleaning, so that any stirred up particles do not cause more triggers.
"To combat mold, be sure to keep the home as dry as possible," Dr. Levin said. "Turn the vents on when you shower, and use a dehumidifier in the home."
If these avoidance measures do not help with allergies, the next step is medication such as Allegra and nasal steroids sprays, he said.
"Allergy shots are also extremely effective," said Dr. Levin. "They work to retrain the immune system and make it able to tolerate things in the environment that are currently making you miserable. While medications work well for some, they only put a bandage on the problem, whereas allergy shots could be a lifelong cure.
Chattanooga Allergy Clinic treats all types of allergic disorders. There are five offices with seven providers in and around Chattanooga. For more information about perennial allergies and how to avoid them, or to find an office near you, visit chattanoogaallergyclinic.com or call 423-899-0431.