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Causes of Fall Allergy Symptoms and What You Can Do About Them

 

Ah, fall! Time for cozy jackets, colorful leaves, pumpkin spice lattes and … allergy medicine? If you’ve noticed the change in season also triggers allergy and asthma symptoms, you’re not alone. Just like spring, fall is a time when many people are seeking relief from their seasonal allergies.

Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  • Runny nose and mucus
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth
  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes

Do You Live in an Allergy Capital™?

Your location can have an impact on your seasonal allergies. Our 2020 Allergy Capitals™ report looks at the top 100 most challenging places to live in the U.S. with seasonal allergies.

AAFA has produced this report to:

  • Help people recognize, prevent and manage allergy symptoms
  • Help communities identify where the needs of people with allergic diseases can be better met
  • Raise awareness about the impact of seasonal allergies and provide helpful information to improve the quality of life for people who experience them

Relief from seasonal allergies is possible with the right treatment no matter where you live.

2020-allergy-capitals-top-10-map-fall-SM

 

Weed Pollen

Weed pollen is one of the main causes of allergy symptoms – especially the ragweed. Ragweed allergy affects 10 to 20% of Americans.

Ragweed is hard to escape from in the United States. It grows in 49 states. There are 17 types. And ragweed’s pollen is so light, it can travel for hundreds of miles in the air.

Ragweed season starts around July or August, depending on what state you live in. Then it peaks in mid-September. And in some parts of the country, ragweed sticks around until November.

But ragweed isn't the only type of plant that can cause fall allergy symptoms. Other types of weeds that can cause symptoms include:

  • Burning bush
  • Cocklebur
  • Lamb’s-quarters
  • Mugwort
  • Pigweed
  • Russian thistle
  • Sagebrush
  • Tumbleweed

Tips to for Dealing With a Weed Pollen Allergy

  • Try to keep weed pollen out of your home by changing clothes and washing them after you spend time outside. Shower and shampoo every night too. And leave those shoes by the door.
  • Keep your windows and doors closed, if possible. Use your central air conditioning system, if you have it. You may be tempted to open up your home to let the cool fall air in. But it can let pollen in as well.
  • If you do have a central air conditioning system, use air filters that are CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® and change them according to the manufacturer's directions.

Nasal Spray Tip

A nasal spray is one type of treatment recommended to treat pollen allergies. Many are available over the counter. To make sure your nasal steroid spray is effective in treating nasal allergy symptoms, follow these steps:

  • Gently blow your nose before using the spray.
  • Don’t tip your head backwards.
  • Place the tip at the entrance of your nostril and aim it toward the ear on the same side.
  • Use your finger to hold the other nostril closed.


Mold

Mold counts tend to be higher in the fall. Fall landscapes can encourage mold growth. As leaves fall and wood decays, mold thrives. Dry, breezy fall weather can spread mold spores in the air. But fall can also be warm and humid in some places. That encourages mold growth too.

Tips for Dealing With a Mold Allergy

  • Clean up fall leaves and yard debris as soon as possible to avoid giving mold a place to thrive. Have someone without a mold allergy do it, if possible.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat when outside.

Warmer Weather and Longer, Stronger Growing Seasons

If you think fall is starting to feel more like summer, you’re right. Climate change is responsible for a longer, warmer growing fall season, giving plants more time to grow and produce more pollen.

Since 1970, most major U.S. cities have seen an increase in fall temperatures. Warmer fall seasons mean plants, like ragweed, grow and produce pollen longer.1 Pollen growing seasons have gotten two weeks longer on average. And if that's not bad enough, more carbon dioxide emissions can create more potent pollen.2

Tips to Deal With Allergies and Climate Change

  • Track pollen and mold readings often. Check sites like AAAAI's National Allergy Bureau for pollen and mold counts. Plan your activities when counts are lower.
  • Talk to your allergist about allergy treatment. Allergies can be managed with treatments such as antihistamines, nasal sprays and immunotherapy (allergy shots). Relief is possible with the right management plan.
  • Contact your lawmakers about climate change. Sign up for AAFA's Advocacy Action Alerts to learn about opportunities to contact legislators on bills that can reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.



It is important to stay up-to-date on news about asthma and allergies. By joining our community and following our blog, you will receive tips about managing your health. Our community also provides an opportunity to connect with other patients who manage these conditions for support.

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Comments (2)

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It is really useful information. I have also heard that there are apps these days to watch out for different types of pollen spread. I heard of a few like WebMD, weatherbug, climacell, Zyrtec, etc. Do people use these apps, and are they effective?

Last edited by GretchenB
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