It’s hard to believe, but it’s September! School has started and those with allergies are also experiencing symptoms of fall allergies –itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion and sinus pressure. For some, symptoms also include an inability to concentrate, feeling tired and not sleeping well.

The most prevalent allergen this time of year is ragweed.

Ragweed’s season starts late summer to mid-fall and is found in the north, south and midwest of the United States.

As a child, I remember surprising my mother – who dealt with seasonal allergies – with a free bouquet of the lovely yellow flower, which would disappear without a trace later in the day. At this time of year, rain can help to remove most of the pollen from the air. When the forecast is dry, the lowest concentration of ragweed pollen is at 6 a.m., and a peak of pollen is released mid-day.

Keeping your windows closed during these times and using your air conditioner can help reduce your exposure. You can also shower after being outdoors, to remove pollen from your hair and skin. If you have pets, consider wiping them off when they come in from outside because pollen can latch on to their coats and come indoors with them.

A good starting point, especially if this is your first season experiencing allergies, is to start a journal and keep track of your triggers, consider ways to reduce or eliminate your exposure to those triggers, and share these insights with your healthcare provide to decide the best treatment for your situation.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has identified their top 10 “capitals” for allergies. Thank goodness Pennsylvania is not one of them. You can read the full story at