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Fall Allergies: Common Allergens, Treatment, and Prevention

Most people associate allergies with spring and summer. But for millions of people around the world, autumn is the season they can expect a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a range of other symptoms. Read on to learn how to avoid the causes and treat the symptoms of fall allergies.

Fall allergies

The chances that either you or someone you know suffers from a type of seasonal allergy are rather high. This health condition may also be called allergic rhinitis or hay fever.

Whatever the name, the symptoms are obvious and uncomfortable: runny or congested nose, itchy throat, and itchy or red eyes. And while some people experience allergies during spring or summer only, it’s not uncommon for fall to be a difficult time of year.

If you’re sensitive to the substances that cause such allergic reactions, you’ll be exposed to them long after summer has passed. Here’s the short list of what can have you feeling itchy in the fall.

Pollen

Pollen is a powdery substance that is produced by the reproductive parts of flowering plants. Pollen may be carried to other plants by the wind, which means that people with a pollen allergy can be affected over a large area.

Many of the plants that produce allergy-causing pollen blossom in the late summer, so why do they release their pollen during the fall? It’s simply because such plants only die once the outside temperature has become low enough — and this may not be until autumn.

Mold and mildew

Even if you don’t experience seasonal allergies, you’re probably very familiar with the characteristic appearance of mold and mildew.

Both are caused by the spores of fungi that are carried by air currents. These fungi can spread and grow throughout the year, although they become relatively inactive during the winter months.

Pollen, mold, and dust mites are among the most common fall allergens to be aware of.

Mold and mildew can be a particular problem in the fall because they grow very readily on the damp leaves that are so abundant during this time of year. If you have an active outdoor life or if you enjoy gardening, you may also be exposed through contact with compost.

However, this type of fungus isn’t only visible outdoors. Take a look around your home during the autumn and winter and you may notice dark patches of mold on the walls of damp areas like bathrooms and kitchens.

Dust mites

It may not be something you like to think about very much, but dust mites are another common cause of allergies.

Dust mites are microscopic organisms that are present in your home for most of the year. This means that if you’re experiencing allergic symptoms during the fall, there’s a chance that these tiny creatures may be responsible.

Since dust mites survive by consuming the dead skin cells shed by humans, there’s little chance of starving them out of your home!

A woman with fall allergy symptoms

Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms that vary in intensity from mild to severe. 

Here are some of the most common:

  • Runny or congested nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy sinuses, throat, or ears

Many people also find that seasonal allergies can cause dry or irritated skin — this may be more obvious among older people or during stressful periods.

Although there is no direct connection between allergies and sleep, sometimes these symptoms can cause insomnia.

If you have both allergies and asthma, you should consult a medical professional about the best way to treat these two.

Less commonly, allergies may cause coughing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. This is more common among people who have asthma.

If you have both allergies and asthma, you should consult a medical professional about the best way to treat these two. It’s important to keep your asthma controlled to prevent asthma attacks.

A number of medications are available that can help to reduce the severity of symptoms:

  • Your local drugstore or pharmacy stocks a range of over-the-counter medicines that can be used to treat allergies. A medical professional will be able to advise you about suitable treatment. Look for the following types of nonprescription medications: oral antihistamines, decongestants, and drugs that are a combination of each. 
  • If you have severe allergies or if over-the-counter medications don’t control your symptoms, your doctor may suggest a prescription-only treatment like a steroid nasal spray. You may also be offered an allergy shot to make your body less sensitive to allergens.

The best way to deal with seasonal allergies is to avoid exposure to the allergen that causes the reaction.

How you do so depends upon the specific type of allergen to which your body is sensitive, but here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • If pollen is the cause of your allergies, then it’s wise to stay indoors during peak periods (particularly from the middle of the morning to the late afternoon). TV and newspaper weather reports often provide indications of pollen activity, or you may find a smartphone app more accessible. Remember to keep the windows in your home closed to minimize your exposure to pollen, and wash your clothing and bed linens frequently to dislodge any pollen that may have accumulated.
  • Since mold and mildew tend to accumulate in damp leaves, make sure to rake your yard and keep waste away from your home. If allergies make yard work difficult, consider wearing a filtering mask that will reduce the vulnerability of your respiratory tract to mold spores. And don’t forget that the fungi that cause mold and mildew thrive in a damp environment — you’ll find that a dehumidifier can make a big difference in your home.
  • If pollen or mold aren’t the cause of your allergies, the common household dust mite could be at fault. Just to be safe, it’s worth washing your bed sheets regularly at high temperature and using dust-proof covers. If you’re not already doing so, make sure to vacuum your carpets frequently. In addition, thoroughly cleaning out your air vents periodically can prevent colonies of mites being sprayed throughout your home.

Seasonal allergies don’t pose any serious threat to your health, but they can be bothersome and may interfere with your usual lifestyle.

Most people find that they are able to effectively deal with symptoms by avoiding exposure to allergens and using over-the-counter treatments.

If you find these methods ineffective or if you want advice on other treatment options that are available by prescription, consult your doctor or another healthcare provider.

It’s possible that your allergies are the result of a reaction to pet dander, the dead skin that your pet sheds throughout the day.

If you’ve been careful to avoid every allergen you can think of but still find your symptoms unbearable, perhaps you need to take your pets into account!

It’s possible that your allergies are the result of a reaction to pet dander, the dead skin that your pet sheds throughout the day.

Some types of animals shed skin more than others, so if you’re not prepared to give up the family pet, consider switching to a more allergy-friendly breed. Regularly washing and grooming your pet may also help.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/allergies

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/in-depth/allergy/ART-20049365?p=1

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/allergic-reactions

https://medlineplus.gov/allergy.html#cat_78

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