Did you notice that you have a stuffy, congested nose and watery eyes from September through November each year? If yes, there's a good chance you have fall allergies. When you understand what causes fall allergies, the symptoms, and how to properly treat them, you can better prepare for allergy season and minimize the effects on your body and life.
What Causes Fall Allergies?
Fall allergies are triggered by airborne allergens that enter your body through the mouth or nose. Most fall allergies are triggered by ragweed, which starts blooming in September, or mold, which can carry over into winter.
When you have allergies, your body responds to these harmless substances and creates an immune response. The body releases histamine, which works to rid the body of the allergen, resulting in allergy symptoms.
Some of the most common allergens during the fall season include:
Ragweed is a weed that blooms from September through the first frost. Fall allergies are often associated with ragweed allergy due to its prevalence during autumn. Found from the midwest to the East Coast, ragweed impacts much of the country, and a single ragweed flower can release up to a billion pollen grains.
Seasonal Allergies from Weeds
Aside from ragweed, other plants and weeds grow during the fall and may cause allergic reactions, such as:
- Cocklebur: A large weed with a branched stem found in Texas and the American Southwest
- Goldenrod: A fluffy yellow flower originally from North America that blooms at the same time as ragweed
- Lamb's quarters: A broadleaf weed that grows in gardens and carries viral diseases
- Mugwort: A weed belonging to a family of healing herbs but doesn't have significant herbal qualities besides its sharp scent
- Nettle: A broadleaf weed with oval seed leaves that grows in colonies
- Pigweed: A weed with a pink to red taproot that thrives in soil disturbed by excavation
- Russian thistle: A bushy weed common in non-crop areas, poorly managed landscapes, and disturbed soil, commonly called tumbleweed
- Sagebrush: A shrub with leaves shaped like wedges that grow up to two meters high
When piles of fall leaves start to decay, they become the home to thriving mold spores. Mold can grow in places with lots of moisture, such as attics, basements, windows, and previously flooded areas. It’s also common in bathrooms and under kitchen sinks where water may leak. And, as the weather changes, more people spend time indoors, and if they have a mold allergy, it may become triggered.
Dust mites are a problem for allergy sufferers year round, but in fall more time is spent indoors, and dust allergies can flare up. If you have mattresses and furniture in warm areas, you may have dust mites.
What Are the Symptoms of Fall Allergies?
People with fall allergies experience a range of symptoms. Like other seasonal allergies, symptoms and severity differ from person to person, but many patients develop allergic rhinitis, which is commonly referred to as hay fever. It can include one or more of these fall allergy symptoms:
- Body aches and muscle fatigue
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
- Skin rashes
Although rare, fall allergies may also induce anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that causes breathing difficulty and severe swelling.
Why Are Seasonal Allergies Worse in Fall?
Aside from the abundance of weeds, fall weather is conducive to more winds. And since pollen becomes airborne, the wind can take it miles from where it originated. Even if there are no weeds in your area, you may still come in contact with allergens from miles away.
Do You Have Fall Allergy Symptoms?
If you’re unsure if you have fall allergies, it’s time to get an allergy test. Wyndly’s at-home allergy test kit provides everything you need to get tested. With easy-to-understand instructions and included return packing, allergy testing has never been easier.
Once we have your test back, one of our allergy doctors will meet with you to go over the results and a personalized treatment plan to help you live allergy-free.
How Are Fall Allergies Treated?
Depending on your fall allergy symptoms and their severity, you may want to consider some of the following treatments. Use nasal sprays to treat congestion and sinus pressure, but be aware. Overuse can worsen your symptoms. If you have itchy skin or rashes, try steroid creams or ointment.
Over-the-counter antihistamines work well to reduce systems, from hives to sneezing. These medications block the production of histamine. Although short-term, they are effective.
Those with fall allergies should also avoid their allergens as much as possible. Limit exposure by:
- Checking pollen counts: Check local pollen counts before making outdoor plans and modify activities as necessary.
- Staying indoors: When pollen counts are high, delegate outside tasks to someone else.
- Shutting your windows and doors: Pollen enters your home through open windows and doors, so keep them closed.
- Wearing a face mask: If you must go out of the house, wear a mask to reduce the risk of exposure.
- Washing your hands and face: Wash your hands and face as soon as you get home. Changing your clothes can also help, especially if you were outside for a length of time.
Is There a Cure for Fall Allergies?
There is no overnight cure for fall allergies. Or any allergies. But there is immunotherapy, which desensitizes your body to fall allergens. And with no immune response, there are no more allergy symptoms!
Immunotherapy for Fall Allergies
The only long-lasting solution for fall allergies is immunotherapy. Available through sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), this treatment exposes your immune system to small amounts of allergens. With time, your body builds a tolerance and no longer reacts to the allergen.
You can self-administer SLIT at home in the form of allergy drops or allergy tablets. You may be a candidate for SLIT if fall allergy symptoms interfere with your daily life or you struggle to manage your symptoms with over-the-counter medication.
Say Goodbye to Fall Allergy Symptoms
If you’re ready to rid yourself of fall allergies once and for all, sublingual immunotherapy may be right for you. Take our quick, two-minute assessment to see if Wyndly is right for you and to get one step closer to a life without allergies!