Fall is perhaps the most beautiful season of the year. However, along with the multitude of beautiful comes a variety of allergens that cause many to sniffle and suffer. Some people are more sensitive to allergens than others, and many people have to deal with their allergies throughout the year. But in autumn, there are generally a higher number of allergy “triggers” in the air.
Warm weather holding over from the summer often creates an allergy situation. Some plants that begin pollination in August may continue to release pollen into the air until the weather becomes cold enough to freeze them over. The most common producer of pollen in the late summer is ragweed. Ragweed is the most prevalent cause of outdoor fall allergy symptoms in the eastern 1/3 of the United States.
Aside from ragweed, other allergen producing weeds include goldenrod, curly dock, lamb’s quarters, pigweed, sheep sorrel, and sagebrush. The peak times for these fall weed allergens vary, and they are generally not as problematic as ragweed. Pollen levels tend to be highest in the morning, when male flowers are releasing pollen into the wind.
Historically, allergy symptoms caused by ragweed pollen or other pollen has been called “hay fever,” a common term for allergic rhinitis. Many people receive an annual allergy shot to protect themselves from severe allergy symptoms during this time of year.
A holdover from the summer heat, increased humidity allows for the creation of mold spores, which can be released into the fall air, causing rhinitis. Mold is also a concern when raking fall leaves, as layers of leaves will trap moisture and rainwater. Raking leaves can expose mold that has grown underneath the top layer, and breathing in mold particles causes allergic reactions among many people. Leaves also trap pollen that can be released back into the air when raking, especially when the air is dry and wind is high. To avoid inhaling mold and pollen particles, be sure to wear a respirator mask such as an N95.
Thankfully, there are solutions available for fall allergies. If you are experiencing significant symptoms such as a runny nose and eye and throat irritation, talk you your doctor about possible treatment for outdoor allergies. While some people can successfully avoid serious reactions by wearing a mask while raking leaves or staying inside during peak pollen times, many others may require an allergy shot or other seasonal medication to make their fall season more comfortable.
To learn more about your Fall Allergies or for an evaluation, click here to schedule an appointment with our Allergist.