Allergies in the fall

8 Tips for Fall Allergy Relief

Fall Allergy Symptoms

“Allergy symptoms can vary, depending on which part of the body is exposed,” says Dr. Randhawa. These include:

  • Eyes and nose: Watery, itchy eyes; clear, runny mucous; and lots of sneezing.
  • Lungs: Wheezing and asthma.
  • Mouth: Itching in the back of the throat, upset stomach, diarrhea and, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
  • Skin: Hives; dry, itchy skin; and eczema.

Tips for Managing Fall Allergies

As days grow shorter and temperatures drop, we also spend more time indoors with the windows closed, exposing ourselves to indoor allergens, such as dust mites and indoor mold. However, even if you have severe fall allergies, you can usually manage your symptoms and get back to enjoying your life — both inside and outside. These seasonal allergy management tips can help:

  • Check pollen levels. If pollen levels are high in your area, it’s best to limit your outdoor activity, especially during the morning, when pollen counts are highest. Keep your activities inside for a few days instead, if possible, to minimize your exposure to allergens during those days. You can check pollen counts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau.
  • Wear protective clothing. If you do have to go outside, wear long sleeves, pants, a hat, and sunglasses to keep pollen off your skin and out of your hair and eyes. If you’re doing fall yard work like raking or mowing — which can stir up pollen and mold — wear a protective face mask.
  • Remove pollen. One of the best ways to minimize your allergen exposure is to wash pollens off your skin and your hair as soon as possible after spending time outside, says Frederick M. Schaffer, MD, chief medical officer at United Allergy Services in San Antonio, Texas. You should also change shoes before entering the house and change clothes inside the front doorway to reduce the amount of pollen and other allergens you may be bringing into the house.
  • Avoid hanging clothes outdoors to dry. Laundry is a magnet for pollen that will eventually end up indoors and on you, via clothing and bedding, says Dr. Schaffer.
  • Buy a dehumidifier. You may have heard that humidifiers can help with breathing, but dehumidifiers may actually be better if you are sensitive to dust or mold. “Dust mites and molds flourish in a humid environment,” says Schaffer. Using a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels in your home low can help fight mold growth. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American recommends keeping humidity levels below 45 percent — 35 percent is even better.
  • Use an air conditioner. This is another way to help remove moisture from the air. It’s especially important to use an air conditioner in your bedroom. It’s where you spend eight or more hours each night, so it’s critical to keep it clean and pollen-free to avoid allergies. Close the windows and keep the air conditioning on, Randhawa says. “Consider installing a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter system, especially during high season, so that you’re breathing in better purified air while you sleep.” Just remember to change air conditioner filters regularly. “Place the used filter in a plastic garbage bag, then dispose of the filter outdoors,” says Schaffer. “This will limit accidental ‘pollen spills’ indoors.”
  • Take your medication as prescribed. This is one of the easiest and most effective steps you can take, according to Randhawa. Many over-the-counter allergy drugs are now non-drowsy, long-lasting, and effective.
  • See a doctor if needed. “A proper allergy test will help identify the cause of your suffering and determine the right treatment to stop it,” explains J. Allen Meadows, MD, a board-certified allergist with the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Clinic. “Anyone with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day, and sleep well at night.”

Nothing says fall like cozy sweaters, warm cups of tea, and, for some people, a runny, itchy nose. Or swollen, watery eyes. Or other allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, autumn, that beloved season full of great activities (apple picking!) and even greater drinks (cider!) can wreak complete havoc on some people with seasonal allergies.

Allergies happen when your immune system reacts to typically harmless substances as if they’re dangerous intruders, according to the Mayo Clinic. In response, your immune system releases the chemical histamine, which gives rise to allergy symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). These symptoms can include the aforementioned irritated nose and eyes, but they can also become dangerous if, say, you have asthma, and allergies trigger an asthma attack. This is known as allergic asthma, and it’s a beast.

The good news is that there are tons of ways to handle fall allergies. Some tips apply no matter what you’re allergic to, and others are pretty specific to certain allergens. Either way, the following expert-approved list has good ways to start getting your fall allergies under control.

1. Know which allergens are most common in the fall.

One of fall’s main culprits is ragweed, a plant that produces a massive amount of pollen in the fall, Alice Hoyt, M.D., an allergist in the allergy and clinical immunology department at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF.

Mold is another big one because it’s especially prone to accumulating in fallen leaves during autumn, Dr. Hoyt explains. When you rake (or, ahem, jump into) leaves, mold spores release into the air and can cause allergy symptoms.

Then there are dust mites. As Dr. Hoyt explains, these microscopic, “nasty little creatures” love to live in anything upholstered in your home and feed off your dead skin flakes (delicious). They can be year-round irritants, but as the weather cools, you’re likely to spend more time indoors and increase your exposure, William Reisacher, M.D., otolaryngic allergist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, tells SELF. Also, dry winter air means people often crank up their humidifiers, Dr. Hoyt adds. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments.

2. Make sure your symptoms are actually due to allergies.

“Many people can have symptoms in the fall, and not related to allergies,” says Dr. Reisacher. For instance, high concentrations of mold spores can cause irritation even when you’re not allergic, he explains.

If it helps, a major sign that you’re actually allergic to something is experiencing itchiness, says Dr. Hoyt, whether that’s in your eyes, nose, or skin. This is because the histamine that your body pumps out when faced with an allergen creates an itching sensation.

Still, you won’t know that you’re allergic for sure unless you do allergy testing, Dr. Reisacher says. There are different ways to do this, like with a “prick test,” where small amounts of common allergens are placed just below the surface of your skin to see if they cause a reaction, blood drawing, and more.

It may seem pointless to schlep yourself to an allergist for confirmation of something you think you already know, but if you can do it, you should, Dr. Hoyt says. Figuring out what’s causing your allergies can help you better safeguard yourself. Here’s everything you need to know about allergy testing so that you’re prepared.

3. Check the pollen and mold counts before you head outside.

There are tools you can use to keep tabs on how much of these allergens are floating around, just waiting to ruin your day. For instance, if you search for your location in Accuweather’s database, then click the little icon at the top right of the page that says “allergies,” you’ll get a specific report on pollen and mold counts in your area.

4. Wear protective accessories like a hat and sunglasses, too.

If a ton of pollen and mold spores are wafting through the air, they can get all over your hair, Dr. Hoyt says. Hence the hat.

What Are the Symptoms of Fall Allergies?

Who doesn’t wish that allergy season would just end? It always seems as one allergy season comes to a close, another allergy season begins.

However, our team at AFC Urgent Care West Islip doesn’t want you to spend your fall dealing with seasonal allergies. Therefore, we are here to offer you tips on how you can prevent and treat fall allergies so that you can get back to putting the fun in your fall season!

Why Do My Allergies Get Worse in the Fall?

If you thought springtime was the only rough time for seasonal allergies, think again! Allergies during the fall months can be just as unpleasant.

Weed pollen, along with ragweed and sagebrush, can be the main causes of allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) around this time of year between late summer and early fall.

  • Watery, itchy or generally irritated eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Hives on the skin
  • Itchy throat

How Can Fall Allergies Be Prevented?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can take action against seasonal allergies this time of year. Start by checking pollen levels each day before heading outside. If they’re high, make sure you are taking an antihistamine as directed.

You might also want to buy a dehumidifier to help disseminate any pollen that could enter your home, as well as help you breathe easier.

Ways to Relieve Allergies

  • Clear out nasal passages using nasal irrigation.
  • Drink more water.
  • Take an OTC antihistamine or decongestant, depending on symptoms.
  • Try an OTC or prescription nasal spray.
  • Get allergy shots for severe allergies.

Are your allergies getting to be too much already? Stop by AFC Urgent Care West Islip today for a treatment plan!

While hay fever and allergies caused by trees are usually associated with springtime, seasonal allergies can also spike during the early fall months. Cool autumn air harbors irritants that can be just as unpleasant as pollen.

Allergens from trees and grasses float through the air in spring, summer and fall, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These particles can enter a person’s nose, eyes, ears and mouth, triggering an allergic reaction.

“The most common fall allergy is ragweed, which pollinates from August 15 to early October through most of the United States and parts of Europe,” said Dr. Jay M. Portnoy, chief of allergy, asthma and immunology at Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Mich. “It causes hayfever, with symptoms that include sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy nose and itchy, watery eyes.”

Mold spores are also released in autumn, and become more common in the air as decaying leaves and other vegetation fall to the ground, Portnoy said. This worsens allergy symptoms because as mold particle counts climb higher, they become increasingly irritating to people with allergies. High mold counts also contribute to breathing problems among those with asthma, Portnoy said.

“Sadly, fall is also virus season, with increased colds and the flu,” Portnoy told Life’s Little Mysteries. “Since all of these are happening at the same time, it is often hard to tell what is due to allergies and what is due to infection.”

Attempting to escape fall allergens by staying indoors probably won’t work, Portnoy said, because low humidity inside homes is another major trigger of nasal and lung allergy symptoms. Low humidity dries out mucous membranes and leads to inflammation, while cold, dry air causes the lining of the nose to become swollen, resulting in a stuffy and runny nose.

While the ideal indoor humidity is from 35 to 50 percent, homes and offices may have a humidity level as low as 16 percent. Portnoy advises using a humidity meter, also known as a hygrometer, to keep track of the humidity levels. If levels are low, a humidifier may help relieve nasal problems.

Changing vent filters and servicing heating systems can also ease symptoms. Vacuuming and cleaning the house often to keep dust mites, pet dander or other indoor allergy triggers under control may help alleviate discomfort, according to the NIH.

But there’s still some good news for those suffering from autumn allergies.

“Many people get better once the weather turns colder and stops fluctuating from warm and cold,” Portnoy said. “By November, it often gets better.”

  • What Causes Allergies?
  • Why Do Some People Sneeze so Loud?
  • Why Are Only Some People Allergic to Some Foods?

This article was provided by Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.

Back-to-school season is a time of great excitement as millions of students start a new year. It also presents challenges for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. Fall allergy symptoms can negatively affect an individual’s quality of life by causing fatigue and sleep disturbances and impairing concentration, depending on the frequency and severity of symptoms.
Ragweed pollen is the most common trigger of fall allergies.1-3 Ragweed grows prevalently in most regions on the East Coast and in the Midwest, typically blooming and producing a fine-powder pollen from August into November.2,4 With 17 species of ragweed pollen, peak levels typically occur in mid-September, affecting an estimated 23 million individuals in the United States.2 Just 1 plant can release as many as 1 billion pollen grains, which create future ragweed plants and contribute to significant seasonal allergies.3 Almost 75% of individuals who are allergic to spring plants also have reactions to ragweed, which can also aggravate asthma symptoms and lead to coughing and wheezing.1-3 Other plant allergens contributing to fall allergies may include mugwort, sagewood, and tumbleweed.4 Some individuals with allergies to ragweed may also experience sensitivities to certain raw fruits, seeds, tree nuts, and vegetables, as they may contain pollen comparable to that of ragweed.2,3 This condition is often referred to as oral allergy syndrome.3 Foods that may cause symptoms in an individual with a ragweed allergy include bananas, cantaloupes, chamomile tea, honey that contains pollen, sunflower seeds, and zucchini.3 Individuals with oral allergy syndrome may experience itchy mouth, a scratchy throat, or swelling in the lips, mouth, throat, or tongue.2 Other possible causes of fall allergy symptoms include dust mites and mold.2-5
Additionally, some students have fall allergy symptoms, caused by allergens in the classroom, such as chalk dust and classroom pets, according to the College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.6 For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, finding relief from such common symptoms as headache, itchy throat, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion, and repetitive sneezing is a top priority. Unfortunately for some consumers, the selection of a nonprescription allergy product can be a daunting task, especially if an individual has other medical conditions or is lactating, pregnant, or taking other medications. Pharmacists can be instrumental in guiding patients in the selection and proper use of nonprescription allergy products and directing them to seek further medical care when warranted. Prior to initiation of pharmacologic therapy, a clinician should thoroughly evaluate a patient’s medical and medication history to determine whether self-treatment is appropriate and to prevent contraindications and drug interactions. OTC products include intranasal corticosteroids (INCS), mast cell stabilizers, ocular and oral antihistamines, and oral and topical decongestants. INCS have been shown to be the most effective treatment for most of the symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis.7
In 2017, the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters released updated recommendations for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) in adolescents and adults. The guidelines recommend that clinicians treat patients 12 years or older with nasal symptoms of SAR at least initially with an INCS alone rather than an INCS–oral antihistamine combination.8
CLINICAL STUDIES AND RECENT NEWS
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2018 Fall Allergy Capitals Report, which ranks the 100 largest cities for fall allergies, the top 5 for fall allergies were, in order, McAllen, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; Jackson, Mississippi; San Antonio, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio.1
In a 2019 publication, investigators explored the relationship between seasonal allergy symptoms and the microbiome of the gut. They concluded that although more data are warranted, evidence suggests that improvement of the microbiome of the gut is linked to fewer allergic symptoms, including allergy-related asthma.9
ROLE OF THE PHARMACIST
The goals of therapy are to reduce symptoms via allergy avoidance when feasible, pharmacotherapy, and immunotherapy. As accessible health care professionals, pharmacists are in a pivotal position to assist patients in the selection and proper use of nonprescription products, as well as to counsel patients regarding the most efficacious nonpharmacologic means of preventing or reducing symptoms. During counseling, pharmacists should advise patients to use OTC products as recommended and also make them aware of potential adverse effects. Pharmacists should encourage patients with severe allergy symptoms to seek further care from their primary care providers. Pharmacists can also suggest various mobile apps that monitor pollen counts across the United States. Finally, they can direct patients to education resources at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website.2,5,6

Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh, is a consulting pharmacist and a medical writer in Haymarket, Virginia.
REFERENCES

Four Things You Might Not Know About Fall Allergies

(ARA) As most allergy sufferers will tell you, allergy symptoms can always be bothersome, turning any time of year into sneezing season. A runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat can arise as the days get shorter and the leaves begin to change.

The fall can be especially difficult for people who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen.But these seasonal elements aren t the only triggers that can make symptoms worse this time of year. There are also a few lesser known triggers.Here are four things you might not know about fall allergies, courtesy of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

* Hay Fever? – Hay fever, a term from a bygone era, actually has nothing to do with hay. Instead, it s a general term used to describe the symptoms of late summer allergies. Ragweed is a common cause of hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis. The plant usually begins to pollenate in mid-August and may continue to be a problem until a hard freeze, depending on where you live. See an allergist for prescription medications to control symptoms or to see if allergy shots may be your best option.

* Lingering Warm Weather While most people enjoy Indian summer, unseasonably warm temperatures can make rhinitis symptoms last longer. Mold spores can also be released when humidity is high, or the weather is dry and windy. Be sure to begin taking medications before your symptoms start. Track your allergy symptoms with MyNasalAllergyJournal.org and visit with your allergist to find relief.

* Pesky Leaves – Some folks might find it difficult to keep up with raking leaves throughout the autumn. But for allergy sufferers, raking presents its own problem. It can stir agitating pollen and mold into the air, causing allergy and asthma symptoms. Those with allergies should wear an NIOSH rated N95mask when raking leaves, mowing the lawn and gardening.

* School Allergens – It s not only seasonal pollen and mold that triggers allergies this time of year. Kids are often exposed to classroom irritants and allergy triggers.These can include chalk dust and classroom pets. Students with food allergies may also be exposed to allergens in the lunch room.Kids with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) may experience attacks during recess or gym class. Help your child understand what can trigger their allergies and asthma, and how they can avoid symptoms. Be sure to notify teachers and the school nurse of any emergency medications, such as quick relief inhalers and epinephrine.

No matter the season, it s important for those who think they may be suffering from allergies or asthma to see a board-certified allergist. An allergist can help you develop a treatment plan, which caninclude both medication and avoidance techniques.

Having your allergies properly identified and treated will help you and your family enjoy the season. To find an allergist and learn more about allergies and asthma, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

Research

Fall Allergy Capitals 2018

Ragweed season is here! Do you live in one of the 2018 Fall Allergy Capitals? If so, AAFA has some tips to help you find relief.

Nasal allergies affect more than 50 million Americans. In the fall, weeds – such as ragweed and pigweed – are the most common causes of seasonal allergies. AAFA’s annual Fall Allergy CapitalsTM report provides insights into cities where people are most affected by fall allergies.

The five most challenging places to live with fall allergies this year are:

  1. McAllen, Texas
  2. Louisville, Kentucky
  3. Jackson, Mississippi
  4. San Antonio, Texas
  5. Dayton, Ohio

The report looks at three important factors:

  • Pollen and mold counts
  • Allergy medication usage
  • Availability of board-certified allergists

This year’s report names McAllen, Texas, as the top Fall Allergy Capital due to its:

  • Higher than average pollen
  • Higher than average medicine use
  • Lower availability of board-certified allergists

McAllen, Texas, was also named our top Spring Allergy Capital for 2018.

Get Allergy Relief No Matter Where You Live

Common symptoms of fall allergies include:

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion

“AAFA’s annual Fall Allergy Capitals™ report provides important insights into cities where people are most affected by seasonal symptoms from environmental factors like pollen, use allergy medication frequently, and have ready access to board-certified clinicians,” says Kenneth Mendez, President and CEO of AAFA. “Whether you live in an allergy capital or not, it’s important to work with your health care provider to recognize the elements that trigger your allergies and determine the best treatment to enjoy your life unrestricted by seasonal allergies.”

Where Does Your City Rank in Your Region?

The 2018 Fall Allergy Capitals also ranks cities by regions to provide a closer look into how each city stacks up against surrounding areas.

2018 Regional Rankings

No. 1 in the Northeast – Providence, Rhode Island
No. 1 in the South – McAllen, Texas
No. 1 in the Midwest – Dayton, Ohio
No. 1 in the West – Las Vegas, Nevada

Where Can I Get More Information About the Fall 2018 Rankings?


2018 Fall Allergy Capitals – 100 Metro Areas and Regional Rankings
Press Release

What Can I Do for My Fall Allergies?

Ragweed pollen – the most common cause of fall allergy symptoms – starts to appear in most of the U.S. in August, peaking in mid-September. Other offending fall plants include pigweed, burning bush, cocklebur, sagebrush, mugwort, lamb’s-quarters, tumbleweed and Russian thistle. Mold is also high due to falling leaves that collect on the ground.

There are apps you can use to watch your area’s pollen counts. On days that pollen is high for ragweed and other weed pollen you are allergic to, you can take these actions to reduce your pollen exposure:

  • Limit outdoor activities
  • Keep windows closed
  • Use central air conditioning with air filtration
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors
  • Wear a hat to cover your hair
  • Take a shower and shampoo hair before going to bed to remove pollen from your hair and skin
  • Change and wash clothes worn during outdoor activities
  • Dry laundry in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line
  • Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home
  • Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week
  • Rinse the inside of your nose with a nasal rinse to flush out and remove pollen you have inhaled
  • Use a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® air cleaner (portable or whole house/HVAC)

How to reduce your exposure to mold spores outside:

If you have a mold allergy, you may experience symptoms as leaves fall and collect on the ground. But mold can also cause issues year-round. When mold counts are high, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to outdoor mold:

  • Limit outdoor activities. This will reduce the amount of mold spores you inhale.
  • Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 mask and sunglasses or goggles when cutting grass, digging around plants, picking up leaves and disturbing other plant materials.

There are also options available to prevent or treat allergy symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription allergy medicines – some work best if you start taking them before the allergy season begins.
  • Immunotherapy – there are shots or tablets available that are a long-term treatment for pollen allergy. They can help prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

Talk with your doctor or health care provider months before the fall allergy season begins so you can discuss which treatment is right for you.

Our Fall Allergy Capitals report is an independent research project of AAFA.

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