Summer’s Over, Fall Is Here. Why Do I Still Have Allergies?

Most people think that spring and summer are the worst seasons for allergies, but fall is not far behind, bringing with it these unpleasant and annoying symptoms:

  • Watery, itchy, irritated eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Rashes or hives
  • Itchy throat
  • In severe cases, trouble breathing or anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction)

Why are fall allergies so bad?

James Pollowitz, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI

If you have seasonal allergies, your immune system is trying to fight off a substance that you’re sensitive to. It does this by releasing histamine, which leads to the symptoms listed above. In the fall, several factors contribute to an increase in irritants that are around in the spring in summer, including:

  1. Weeds grow by leaps and bounds once the fall rainy season hits

Plants produce pollens and the ones spread by wind are the ones that cause allergies. More weeds—especially ragweed—means more pollen, a major cause of fall allergies. Other weed pollens that are particularly active in the fall include lambs quarters.

  1. Molds are another significant fall allergen

Once fall foliage starts to decay, it becomes a breeding ground for mold. In addition, molds grow well in low light and in areas of high moisture, conditions that often occur in the fall. Inhaling mold spores can aggravate asthma and bring on coughing, wheezing and other upper respiratory symptoms in people with mold allergies.

  1. You’re indoors more in the fall

Once fall begins, most people are back to school or work. They’re also indoors more as the days get shorter and cooler, increasing their exposure to indoor allergens such as pets (especially dogs and cats) and dust mites. Also, respiratory infections usually increase during this season, which can trigger asthma attacks and sinus and ear infections.

  1. Outside allergans get brought inside

Most people don’t realize it but when they come inside, they bring irritants into their house with them on their hair, skin and clothing. To counteract this, follow these tips:

  • Brush or wipe down pets after outdoor walks to cut down on the pollen they bring into the house with them.
  • Leave your shoes outside so they can’t track in mold and pollen.
  • Close the windows, especially on windy or high pollen count days.

Several options for treating your fall allergies

  1. Avoid or eliminate irritants that trigger your allergies. To reduce the allergans that trigger allergic reactions, cover your pillows and mattresses in allergy-proof encasements, get rid of mold in your home, repair water leaks and clean up damp areas, and remove pets or restrict them to certain areas in your house.
  2. OTC steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines and decongestants reduce inflammation in your nose, relieve stuffiness, and help stop sneezing, sniffling, and itching.
  3. Prescription medications (such as inhaled steroids) help control and prevent allergy symptoms.
  4. Immunotherapy (allergy shots or oral tablets or drops) are also very beneficial.

Even with fall allergies, you can still enjoy the fall

By carefully controlling the things that can trigger an allergic reaction, you can still enjoy this gorgeous time of year and not let allergies keep you being outdoors.

To learn more, check out these two important websites

Do you suffer from fall allergies? Come see us.

If you have fall allergies, or any other health issue that’s bothering you or someone in your family, please make an appointment with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners to see one of our physicians in the division of Allergy/Asthma. We’ll examine you, evaluate your condition and symptoms, and together, decide on the best course of treatment going forward to help you feel better soon. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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By James Pollowitz, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, an Allergy and Asthma specialist with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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