If you have seasonal allergies, you might have come to realize that “seasonal” doesn’t mean just one season out of the year. Plenty of people with allergies in the spring also experience fall allergies, and it’s also possible for people who get through the spring without any issues to suddenly start sneezing when fall comes around. Here’s a look at the allergens that are more likely to occur during the fall and what you can do to handle them.
Pollen isn’t only a problem in the spring. In fact, different plants produce pollen at different times of year. If you’re only allergic to one type of pollen, you’re likely to only experience allergic symptoms once a year. But if you’re allergic to multiple types of pollen, you’re likely to have allergies in the spring, summer and fall.
In the spring, pollen produced by trees is usually to blame for allergy symptoms. In the summer, pollen produced by grasses often triggers allergies in people. Once the fall rolls around, pollen produced by weeds is what makes people miserable.
Ragweed in particular seems to be the culprit for most people’s fall allergies. A single ragweed plant can produce more than one billion pieces of pollen.
Around three quarters of people who have allergies in the spring are also allergic to ragweed. It doesn’t matter if there’s no ragweed growing near where you live. You can still have an allergic reaction to it as the pollen from the weed can be blown by the wind, often to places hundreds of miles away from any actual ragweed plants. Usually, ragweed season starts in late August and stretches until the first frost in an area.
Mold and Dust Mites
Falling leaves create another opportunity for fall allergens. Mold can thrive on piles of wet leaves as well as in damp areas in your home, such as the basement or a bathroom that isn’t well ventilated. Fluctuating fall weather, such as temperatures that drop and then rise, can create a particularly appealing environment for mold. Mold spores are likely to spread in humid conditions. They can also spread when the air is dry and there’s a lot of wind.
Fall weather doesn’t make the world more dusty, but you might be in for a bit of a surprise when you turn the heat on for the first time in the fall. During the spring and summer, dust mites might collect in the ducts of your heating system. Turning the furnace on for the first time can cause the mites to be pushed out into your living space, triggering an allergic reaction.
Allergic to School
It might seem like every kid’s dream come true but, yes, it’s possible for a child to be allergic to school, or at least certain aspects of school. For example, if a school still uses chalk, some children might have allergies to the dust created by the chalk. Some classrooms have small rodents or rabbits as pets, which a student can be allergic to.
Let’s not forget that some school buildings, particularly older ones, are more prone to having dust mites and mold spores than others. If your child seems to have developed a chronic case of the sniffles ever since going back to school, it might be worth investigating to see if there’s anything in the classroom that could be responsible.
Diagnosing and Treating Fall Allergies
The first step to treating fall allergies is figuring out what you’re allergic to. It could be ragweed, mold, dust mites or some combination of the three. Your surgeon might perform an allergy test, which involves exposing a small area of the skin to an allergen to see how it reacts.
Once you know the cause of your allergies, you can work with your surgeon to determine the most appropriate treatment. For some people, managing symptoms with antihistamines is the best course of action. People with more severe allergy symptoms or for whom allergies interfere with life too much might consider immunotherapy, or allergy shots.
If you decide to receive allergy shots, you get an injection every week or so of the thing you’re allergic to. Over time, your body builds up a response to the allergen so that it stops overreacting to it and your allergy symptoms fade.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with sinus problems and allergies in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about treatment for fall allergies, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.