Fall allergies explained: Symptoms, causes and treatment
If you find yourself constantly sneezing in the fall, you may be suffering from seasonal allergies — and you’re not alone. Every year, 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. In fact, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States.
For many people, symptoms such as watery eyes, a scratchy throat, and runny nose seem to appear out of nowhere. These allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they often occur when the seasons change. So, how can you make allergy season more bearable? Let’s take a look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options for seasonal allergies.
What are fall allergies?
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to airborne particles like pollen, mold spores and dust mites.
When these particles come into contact with the mucous membranes in your nose, eyes and throat, your body releases histamine and other chemicals in an attempt to get rid of the invaders. This release of histamine is what causes allergy symptoms like watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing.
For some people, seasonal allergies are a nuisance that can be treated with over-the-counter medications. But for others, fall allergies can be severe and may require prescription-strength drugs or allergy shots.
Causes of fall allergies
The most common fall allergies causes are pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. As plants release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants, the tiny grain-like particles can end up in your nose, eyes and throat.
Mold spores are another common fall allergen. These microscopic fungi are found in damp environments like leaves, compost piles and even your own yard. As mold spores are released into the air, they can trigger an allergic reaction.
Dust mites are tiny creatures that live in dust particles. They are most often found in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting. When dust mites come into contact with your skin, they can cause an allergic reaction.
When does allergy season start?
For many people, fall allergies begin when the weather starts to cool and the leaves start to change color sometime around mid-to-late August. However, fall allergies can also be triggered by late-blooming flowers and weeds. So, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s important to be aware of your triggers and take steps to avoid them.
How long do fall allergies last?
Fall seasonal allergies can last for weeks or even months. However, the severity of your symptoms of fall seasonal allergies may vary depending on the weather, the amount of pollen in the air, and the duration of allergen exposure.
A person who is allergic to multiple allergens such as two or more types of pollens, molds, and dust can suffer from long lasting allergies or even year-round allergic symptoms. People who are relatively immune to fall allergies, however, get over allergic symptoms in a matter of a few weeks.
You can use anti-allergic medicines and products like allergy shots or sprays before they become necessary so your body has time to prepare itself in advance. Practicing preventive measures will also help keep allergens away during the fall season while maintaining exposure triggers at minimal levels. This should result in fewer days spent feeling sick with symptoms eluding past their peak duration.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
The most common symptoms of fall allergies include:
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see an allergist to get a proper diagnosis. Allergy testing can help determine which fall allergens you’re allergic to and the best course of treatment.
How are fall allergies diagnosed?
An allergist can diagnose fall allergies with a skin prick test or a blood test.
During a skin prick test, the allergist will place a small amount of allergen extract on your skin. Then, they will use a needle to prick the surface of your skin. If you’re allergic to the allergen, you’ll develop a raised, itchy bump.
A blood test can also be used to diagnose fall allergies. This test measures the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood. If you have a high level of antibodies, it’s likely that you’re allergic to the allergen.
Seasonal allergies causes and triggers
There are many fall allergies causes and triggers, including:
- Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
- Late-blooming flowers and weeds
There are a number of things you can do to lessen the impact of your allergies this fall. If you know what your triggers are, you can take steps to avoid them. For example, if mold spores are a problem for you, make sure to keep windows closed and run an air purifier in your home. If dust mites are an issue, be sure to wash bedding in hot water regularly and keep surfaces in your home clear of dust accumulation.
You should also avoid spending time outdoors during peak allergy season, which is typically from mid-August to early November. If you must go outside, be sure to wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth. Be sure to take your allergy medication, as well.
How to get rid of fall allergies
There are many fall allergies treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable.
Seasonal allergies management
The best way to get rid of fall allergies is to avoid common fall allergy triggers. However, this isn’t always possible. If you must go outside, be sure to wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth. You should also take your allergy medication as prescribed.
Some other helpful tips for avoiding fall allergies triggers include:
- Keeping windows closed and running an air purifier in your home
- Washing bedding in hot water regularly
- Keeping surfaces in your home clear of dust accumulation
- Vacuuming frequently with a HEPA filter
- Avoiding being outdoors during peak allergy season
If you can’t avoid your triggers, there are fall allergy treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms.
There are many over-the-counter fall allergies treatments available. These include:
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines can relieve itching, runny nose, and sneezing. They work by blocking the action of histamine, a substance that is released by the body in response to an allergy trigger. Examples of antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
- Decongestants: Taking decongestants can help you get rid of a stuffy nose. This allows you to breathe more easily and can also help to clear out some of the mucus that is causing your congestion. Examples of decongestants include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE).
- Nasal spray: To tackle fall allergies, this treatment can help by delivering a small amount of medication directly to the nasal passages, where it can help to reduce inflammation and relieve congestion. Examples of nasal sprays include fluticasone (Flonase) and triamcinolone (Nasacort).
- Eye drops: Eye drops can help relieve itchy, watery eyes, especially during allergy season. They work by reducing inflammation and blocking the action of histamines, which are responsible for triggering the body’s allergic response. Examples of eye drops include ketotifen (Zaditor) and olopatadine (Pataday).
You should talk to your doctor before taking any fall allergies treatments, as some may cause side effects. For example, pseudoephedrine can cause insomnia and dizziness.
If over-the-counter fall allergies treatments don’t work for you, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication.
Home remedy for allergies
There are a number of fall allergies home remedies that can help relieve your symptoms. These include:
- Rinse your sinuses: You can use a neti pot or nasal rinse kit to flush out your sinuses. This can help remove pollen and other irritants from your nose.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking fluids helps thin mucus, which can help reduce congestion.
- Apply a warm compress: Applying a warm compress to your sinuses can help reduce congestion and pain.
- Eat local honey: Eating local honey can help desensitize you to pollen in your area.
- Limit your time outdoors: Spending less time outdoors can help reduce your exposure to pollen in fall and other irritants.
If you have fall allergies, there are many treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about which fall allergies treatments are right for you.
Fall allergies management
Here are some tips to manage your fall allergies so you can enjoy the changing seasons.
- Wash up: Pollen can stick to your skin and clothes. So, take a shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside. This will help remove pollen from your body.
- Don’t hang out in dry, windy places: Wind can blow pollen around, making your allergies worse. So, avoid dry, windy places when pollen counts are high.
- Keep windows closed: Pollen can come into your home through open doors and windows. So, keep them closed to keep pollen out. You may also want to run an air conditioner to filter out pollen.
- Wear a dust mask: If you have to do outdoor chores when pollen counts are high, wear a dust mask. This will help keep pollen out of your nose and mouth.
- Get a dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers help remove dust and mold from your home and help you breathe easier. Running a dehumidifier can keep fall allergies and asthma at bay by preventing mold and dust mites from thriving in your home.
- See your doctor: If your allergies are severe, see your doctor. They may prescribe allergy shots or medicine to help control your symptoms.
Fall allergy treatment at Nao Medical
At Nao Medical, we want you to feel good and stay healthy so you can better enjoy the seasons as they turn. If you’re struggling with allergies this fall, we can help. We’ll work with you to get the best treatment for your allergies and find the most ideal way to manage them.
Visit us at any of our locations to learn more about fall allergies and how to relieve your symptoms.