November is known for a lot of things - with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving among the most recognizable. As the weather gets colder you might think your seasonal allergies are finally over, but did you know that you can still get allergies during this time of year?
While it's not as common as springtime allergies or summer hay fever, allergies in the fall are a problem for many people. Those with allergies not only have to deal with pollen during the fall, but they may also deal with indoor allergies.
What Causes Fall Seasonal Allergies?
Fall allergies, like spring allergies, can be caused by a range of allergens - both outdoors and indoors. From weeds and trees to dust mites and pet dander, there are a variety of things that can trigger an attack during autumn.
You’re more likely to experience symptoms in the fall allergy season if you have a family history of allergies or live in an area with high pollen counts. Additionally, certain activities (like raking leaves or gardening) can increase exposure to allergens. Thus, this increases the likelihood of an allergic reaction. Whether or not you experience allergies during the fall depends on your allergy triggers and how often you are exposed to those allergens.
Which Allergens Trigger Fall Allergies?
Allergy symptoms in the fall can be caused by a wide range of triggers, including pollen, dust mites, mold, and animal dander. As long as you have a sensitivity to an allergen and are exposed to it, you can expect at least some reaction.
Pollen is the number one, broadest cause of allergies year-round. It's a very fine powder that comes from the seed of flowering plants. It is then spread by the wind to fertilize other plants of the same species.
While most people's minds jump to the spring allergy season when they think of pollen, there is a second, smaller peak in the fall. This is due to plants like ragweed (the most common weed allergen in North America), which release their pollen in the later months of the year. Depending on where you live, this can be as early as August and last well into November.
Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in humid environments. This makes them especially common in places like mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. While not visible to the human eye, they can cause various allergic reactions. You may experience anything from itchy eyes to full-blown asthma attacks.
Unlike pollen, dust mites are present all year-round. However, if you spend more time indoors during the fall or winter, you might experience worse dust mite allergy symptoms simply due to increased exposure.
Mold is a type of fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors. It thrives in damp, humid environments, and reproduces by releasing mold spores into the air. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma attacks for those with an allergy to mold.
Mold is more common in the fall due to changing weather conditions. As the temperature outside begins to cool down, mold can grow more easily. This is why it's important to be vigilant about keeping indoor spaces clean and dry, as mold spores can begin to circulate in these areas as well.
For many people, animal dander, which comes from tiny flakes of dead skin, is one of the most common sources of fall allergies. As the months start to cool, both people and pets spend more time indoors. This means anyone with pets or pet allergies becomes more exposed to animal dander and can experience more allergy symptoms.
What Are Common Fall Allergy Symptoms?
Fall allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. They include common signs such as coughing or sneezing. However, they can also include skin symptoms such as eczema. Therefore, it’s important to know what the possible reactions are so you can understand how to best treat them.
The most common fall allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchy throat
- Shortness of breath
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek a diagnosis and proper treatment.
How Are November Allergies Diagnosed?
Fall allergies are usually diagnosed the same ways spring allergies are - skin prick and at-home tests. Each method has its own administration process as well as its pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which will be best for you.
To help you, we have included a breakdown of each method below.
Skin Prick Test
This is the traditional way that allergists diagnose allergies. The process involves using a very fine needle to prick the skin, usually on the back or forearm, and then exposing it to a small amount of an allergen.
While the skin prick test is effective, it's not the most enjoyable experience. The way allergists gauge your sensitivity is by causing a reaction, which can result in uncomfortable and itchy hives.
At-Home Allergy Test
Unlike skin prick tests, at-home allergy diagnosis kits are more user-friendly and pain-free. Here's how they work:
- Get Wyndly’s at-home allergy test. We ship our CLIA-certified test straight to your door.
- Take the allergy test and send it back to us. Just do a quick finger prick test to provide us with a blood sample and mail it back when you’re done.
- Receive your personal allergy profile. Our doctor will interpret your results, create an allergy profile, and walk you through a treatment plan.
How to Treat Seasonal Allergies in Fall?
There are a few different ways to treat seasonal allergies. Most people turn to a combination of medicine and habits to limit their exposure such as spending less time outdoors. The best method for you will likely depend on the severity of your symptoms.
Here's some guidance on how to treat allergies:
Limiting your exposure to allergens is the best way to reduce your symptoms. This can be tricky in the fall when pollen and mold levels are high, but there are strategies to make it easier.
- Check pollen levels: Pollen counts are measurements of the amount of pollen in the air at a given time. They're usually reported in the morning, and you can find them online or in the weather report. If the pollen count is high, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible.
- Watch your outdoor hours: If you must be outdoors when pollen levels are high, try to do so in the late afternoon or evening, when they're typically lower.
- Keep windows closed: The last thing you want is pollen coming into your home through open windows. Keep them shut as much as possible, especially on high pollen days.
- Take shoes off: When you come in from outside, take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking pollen and other allergens inside.
- Wipe-off pets: If you have pets that spend time outdoors, wipe them down with a damp cloth when they come inside to remove any pollen they may be carrying.
- Clean your home: Pollen can also come into your home on clothing, hair, and skin, so it's important to keep any surfaces you touch or interact with clean. Use a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth.
- Do laundry more often: Wash bedding, towels, and clothing frequently to remove any pollen that may have accumulated.
If limiting your exposure to allergens isn't enough, there are a variety of over-the-counter medications that can help with short-term symptom relief.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines work by temporarily blocking histamine, a chemical that your body releases in response to an allergen. Histamine is what causes itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. There are a variety of antihistamines available, both over the counter and by prescription.
- Decongestants: Decongestants can help to reduce congestion and sinus pressure. They come in pill form, as well as nasal sprays.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are a type of anti-inflammatory medication. They can be taken as a pill, nasal spray, or eye drop, and can be very effective at temporarily reducing allergy symptoms.
It's important to note that while the above-mentioned strategies can help respond to allergy symptoms, they're not long-term solutions. If you want something with lasting relief, you may want to consider sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).
SLIT is a type of allergy treatment that involves exposing yourself to small amounts of the allergens you're sensitive to build up your tolerance. It's administered in the form of allergy drops or tablets that you place under your tongue with gradually increasing doses over time. SLIT is effective in reducing symptoms of a variety of allergies, including seasonal allergies.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you want relief from your November allergies, choose Wyndly. At Wyndly, we're committed to helping allergy sufferers find relief from their symptoms.
Take our online allergy assessment now to find out if sublingual immunotherapy is right for you!