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Fall Allergies

by Dr. Abner Bagenstose

While spring is traditionally considered the pinnacle of allergy season, allergens hit another peak as we enter the fall.

Common Fall Allergens

Traditional summer allergies, such as weed pollen, mold and dust mites, persist well into the fall, especially if warm, wet, and humid weather continues into the fall months.

For many allergy sufferers, the principle driver of allergies into autumn is the weed pollen Ragweed, which causes symptoms from the middle of August to early October. Ragweed is found in every state, and its pollen can travel miles in the air, so it is very difficult to avoid during outdoor activities.

There are also other weed pollens such as English plantain, Yellow Dock and Sheep’s Sorrel that cause symptoms from May to September. Mold spores can be in the air whenever the temperature rises above freezing during the night and can cause symptoms from early spring to the onset of freezing weather in the fall.

And while house dust mites are actually perennial allergies, they often cause more symptoms during times of higher levels of humidity.

What Treatments are Available for Fall Allergens?

If you suffer from summer and fall allergies, there are things you can do to lessen the symptoms and make you more comfortable.

  1. Plan to start your outdoor activities after 10am. Pollen counts are highest from 5am-10am and also at dusk.

  2. Encase mattresses, box springs, and pillows in zippered, dust mite-proof covers that completely surround the mattress, box spring, and pillows. (The cover label should list protection against dust mite allergens.)

  3. Wash sheets every week in either very hot water, or wash them with ALL Free and Clear in warm or cold water.

  4. Humidity levels in your home should be less than 50% if possible. Use air conditioning and a dehumidifier in the basement.

  5. If you have carpet, vacuum weekly, using a high-efficiency filter bag and wear a mask if you have a house dust mite allergy.

  6. Over-the-counter antihistamine tablets such as Allegra, Claritin, or Zyrtec can provide relief. Antihistamine eye drops such as Alaway and Zaditor, and corticosteroid nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasacort can be found at your local drugstore. These are most effective if used routinely. Prescription medications are available for patients who need something stronger or for those with allergic asthma.

  7. Allergen immunotherapy can be extremely helpful to reduce symptoms, decrease the need for medication, and in a significant percentage of patients, can be curative!

Talk to an Allergist!

There’s no need to suffer from your seasonal allergies. There are lots of treatments available. If at-home measures aren’t alleviating your symptoms, talk to your allergist today!