Fall allergies are no laughing matter; symptoms drag you down and ruin your day.  That is unless you recognize how to tackle your symptoms effectively.  Allergies in the fall season are just as debilitating as those in the spring.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Knowing your triggers, treatments that work for you and using our prevention tips alleviate the stress and disruption that fall allergies cause.  Some symptoms may indicate lung and breathing disorders, such as asthma or even the first trigger of anaphylaxis.  Untreated fall allergies disrupt daily lives and sleep; finding what works to alleviate the symptoms can bring life-changing relief.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

For many sufferers fall allergies can be as bad or even worse specific allergens.

Allergic reactions in the fall are not uncommon. Many of us suffer the effects caused by an overreaction to allergens that are usually harmless. Your body produces antibodies to attack the allergen.

Allergies

When do Fall Allergies Start?

The biggest culprit is ragweed; it starts to release pollen as the nights cool in August and frequently continues to do so into September and October.  As many as 75% of those who react to spring plants and allergens also react to ragweed.  Other weed pollens and sagebrush are also common triggers.

The problem with ragweed is that it travels hundreds of miles on the wind, so those with a ragweed allergy escape can be hard; just because it doesn’t grow where you live doesn’t mean you’ve escaped it.  When the conditions are right, grasses pollinate in the fall, creating a second round of attack for the many people whose allergies include grass seed pollen.

Another main problem in the fall is mold spores. As well as the familiar problems of mold in the house, mold produces rapidly outside in the fall as leaves fall and summer plants die back.  The piles of rotting down vegetation create ideal breeding conditions for mold, which means the spores that cause allergic reactions.

We know about the importance of keeping mold at bay in the home, but there can be another trigger released into the air as heating goes back on, dust mites. Some people also suffer symptoms from pet dander and fur because of the sudden increase of time spent indoors, especially in a dryer atmosphere.

Common Fall Allergens:

  • Ragweed
  • Weed pollen
  • Sagebrush
  • Mold spores
  • Mildew
  • Dust Mites
  • Grass pollen
  • Pet dander and fur

What are common fall allergy symptoms?

When you suffer allergies, it feels as though no sooner has one allergy season finished; the next one starts. Fall allergies typically start mid-August and continue until the end of October.

Symptoms Include:

  • Irritated, itchy, watery – general eye irritation
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Hives on the skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Sore throat
  • Itchy throat

Your allergen state can even aggravate asthma symptoms, including coughing and wheezing.  Severe cases of allergy reaction can even lead to anaphylaxis which is a serious life-threatening emergency. Diagnosed sufferers carry an epinephrine single-use injector that reduces swelling and inflammation and raises blood pressure.

How to Tackle Seasonal Allergies

There are things you can do to help alleviate the problems:

Reduce exposure to triggers:  

  • Check the internet, local radio, or television for pollen counts.
  • If you have to go outdoors, consider taking allergy medication before symptoms begin.
  • Stay indoors on windy days.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Change your clothes when you come in from outside.
  • Cover your hair when going outdoors.
  • Learn about your allergen, time of day it pollinates, avoid going outside then.
  • If mold spores and mildew are allergens, ask someone else to clear up the garden.

Allergens in the Home:

  • Keep the air as clean as possible.
  • Ensure that air conditioning, especially forced air systems, are regularly maintained.
  • Use frequently changed high-efficiency filters.
  • Use a portable HEPA filter in your bedroom.
  • Damp dust surfaces.
  • Vacuum floors using a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner.
  • When the air in your home is very dry, use a humidifier.  When the air is damp, use a dehumidifier.
  • Keep mold and mildew at bay by ensuring that bathrooms and kitchens are carefully monitored and cleaned.

Mold and dust mites thrive in humid conditions, causing allergies.  If mold and mildew are some of your allergens using a dehumidifier keeps the air dryer to help you.  Conversely, air that is too dry causes the mucous membranes in your nasal passages to dry out. Bacteria, viruses, and allergens in the air are no longer trapped.  Air that is too dry is a serious problem for those who also suffer from asthma. “The ideal humidity level for your home is between 30 and 50 percent” (Oz, M, MD).  A humidity monitor is a worthwhile investment to ensure that your humidity levels are optimized.

For new sufferers, initially fall allergy symptoms, sore throats can be mistaken for cold symptoms; it’s when the sore throat symptoms reoccur that allergens are suspected.

Ways to Relieve Allergies

There are effective Fall allergies remedies:

Nasal irrigation, also known as sinus wash, is a fast and effective way to relieve nasal congestion.  By rinsing using a sterile saline solution, you flush out mucus and allergens from your nose.

Frequently over the counter antihistamines work exceptionally effectively for most sufferers.  If one doesn’t work, keep a note of the active ingredients and try another.  Not all work for everyone, and when you find the one that does work, the relief is amazing!

Some Common Over the Counter Antihistamines:

  • Brompheniramine (Dimetane)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)
  • Clemastine (Tavist)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)

If nothing seems to work or for severe symptoms, seek medical advice.  Prescription fall allergy remedies are available that may suit you.  For some, the answer may be the long-term preventative treatment allergen immunotherapy to decrease the severe symptoms caused by fall allergies.

Drinking plenty of water helps keep hydrated helps slow histamine production.

Remember: It is imperative to seek medical advice if your breathing is worsening or if you suspect a new or degenerating lung condition or breathing difficulties. Heale Medical can easily connect you with a pulmonologist to determine if fall allergies are adversity affecting your respiratory system.

If you suffer fall allergies, careful planning and schedule adjustments mean that you can still get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.  By following preventative methods that work for you, finding and carrying the right antihistamine, and taking a few precautions, it’s possible to continue active lives.  If you sufferers anaphylaxis, you already know the importance of always carrying your dosage pen.

References:

Oz, M, MD (2021). What is the ideal humidity level in my home to avoid winter allergens? Sharecare.com

Additional Resources:

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/fall-allergy-relief