October 15, 2020

Why Are My Allergies Worse In The Fall?

The leaves are turning, the air is getting cooler, and you start getting a stuffy nose and itchy eyes. Is it time to reachfor the cold medicine and call off sick from work, or are these the symptoms of fall allergies?

What are fall allergy symptoms?

Many people with allergies experience worse symptoms in the fall. This is usually because outdoor fall allergens emerge inresponse to the change in seasons, triggering allergy symptoms in many people.

Fall allergy symptoms resemble the allergies at other times of the year, and often include:

●    Runny, itchy, or stuffy nose

●    Itchy, red, or watery eyes

●    Sneezing

●    Coughing

●    Wheezing or difficulty breathing

As the weather gets cooler, it can be easy to mistake your fall allergies for a cold. One key way to tell the difference isthe presence of a fever. A fever is common for a cold or flu, but is not asymptom of fall allergies.

Another key difference is the length of your symptoms. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days, this is a strong sign thatyou are dealing with fall allergy symptoms rather than a cold.

There are also some lesser-known fall allergy symptoms that you may experience:

●    Difficulty sleeping, usually due to congestion

●    Dark circles under the eyes and reduced energy from the lack of sleep

●    Headache, also caused by congestion and inflammation in the nasal cavities

●    Sore throat, caused when allergens in the air irritate your throat or when excess mucus collects in the back ofyour nose and throat


What causes my fall allergies?

Once you are certain you are dealing with allergies rather than a cold or flu, it’s important to understand what istriggering your fall allergy symptoms.

Ragweed is the most common fall allergen. Ragweed usually starts to release pollen in August, lasting into September andOctober. Depending on where the fall allergies occur, ragweed may trigger allergy symptoms until temperatures drop to freezing at night.

Other weeds produce pollen in the autumn that can trigger fall allergies. Usually this begins in late summer and can lastinto early or mid-fall, especially when the weather is unseasonably warm. Fall weeds that cause allergies include:

●    Goldenrod

●    Dockwood

●    Tumblewood

●    Mugwort

●    Sagebrush

●    Cedar elm

●    Sheep’s sorrel

●    Pigweed

●    Curly dock

●    Lamb’s quarter


Mold is another common allergen in the fall, both indoors and outdoors. Mold grows easily in damp locations, so piles of wet leaves can encourage this common fall allergen.

Warm temperatures that extend into fall can also trigger allergy symptoms. High humidity can trigger the release of mold spores, while dry, breezy weather can bring in mold spores or pollen from faraway.

Certain outdoor activities can also trigger allergies. For example, raking leaves or mowing the lawn in the fall maytrigger allergy symptoms by stirring up pollen and mold spores.

Some fall allergy symptoms may have more indirect sources. For example, children who go back to school may experienceallergy symptoms if they are only exposed to triggers at school. This may include a chalk dust, mold in the building, or a classroom pet.

How can I manage fall allergies?

If outdoor allergens trigger your symptoms, then try to limit your exposure by reducing your time spent outside. If youneed to be outside, or still want to enjoy the fall weather and foliage, there are other steps you can take. 

●    Aim to spend time outside when it is less windy, when pollen and mold is carried on the breeze.

●    Check the pollen count, either with a weather app or website or through your local news station. Avoid goingoutside if the pollen or mold count is exceptionally high.

●    Consider wearing glasses or a mask or bandana while outside to protect your eyes and avoid inhaling allergenswhile pulling weeds or raking leaves.

●    Wear long sleeves and pants when outside to reduce your skin’s exposure to allergies.


When you are inside:

●    Immediately change your clothes ifyou have been outside and wash your hands and face. Consider doing a nasalrinse to clear out your sinuses.

●    Leave shoes and outdoor clothesnear the door, never in the bedroom.

●    Keep windows closed.

●    Make sure you properly maintain air conditioning and furnaces, changing air filters regularly.

●    Use allergy-friendly covers for pillows, comforters, mattresses, and box springs.

●    Maintain a humidity of 30 to 50 percent indoors to discourage mold.

●    When dusting and cleaning, use damp rags or mops; dry-dusting or sweeping may stir up allergens.

●    Shower at night to remove allergens from your skin and hair before you go to bed.

What else can I do for fall allergies? 

Different medications can help control your symptoms during fall allergy season. Many of these are availableover-the-counter:

●    Antihistamines counteract the chemical histamine, which sets off allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes,and runny nose.

●    Oral or nasal decongestants don’t prevent allergies from being triggered, but they can treat nasal congestion andrelieve the stuffiness and sinus pressure your allergies may cause.

●    Intranasal corticosteroids can also reduce allergy symptoms like nasal congestion and runny nose.

These allergy treatments, however, are often short-term and need to be repeated each year during the entire fall allergyseason. There are also studies that show long-term use of antihistamines arenot idea. More curative, long-term solutions for allergy relief include:

●    ExACT Immunoplasty ℠, a series of three injections over an eight-week period, has been shown to give fall allergyrelief equivalent to 3-5 years of other forms of allergy immunotherapy likeallergy drops or shots.

●    Allergy drops, used for decades, require a once-yearly trip to an allergist clinic after initial testing.

●    Allergy shots have also been used for a long time to address allergies, requiring more frequent trips to theallergy clinic but offering an affordable option.

Are you tired of dealing with symptoms every fall allergy season? Need long-term relief from your fall allergies? Theallergy specialists at Aspire Allergy & Sinus can help you find asolution that works for you. Come see us and request an appointment today!

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