We’ve all heard of seasonal allergies, and most people associate the term with spring. But did you also know that there’s a fall allergy season? In fact, some people can experience allergy symptoms at any time of year.
Whether you’re someone who only struggles with allergies during the fall, or you’re one of the unlucky allergy sufferers who has difficulty with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) year-round, here are some top tips to help get you through the allergy season.
How Do I Know If I Have Fall Allergies?
Fall allergy symptoms are similar to that of summer and spring allergies, the only difference being the trigger itself. Whether you experience issues in the spring, summer or fall, your condition is still referred to as seasonal allergies, hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
It all boils down to what you are allergic to. Some people may only have issues with the allergens that are more present during spring time. Others may only be allergic to substances that flourish in fall. Some may be allergic to different substances that occur at different points during the year. As we already mentioned, the symptoms are largely the same across the board, but different people may present symptoms differently.
If you are allergic to some of the typical fall allergens, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy face (mostly itchy nose and/or itchy eyes)
- Runny nose and/or stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Sinus issues
- Poor sleep
- Swollen or bruised skin under the eyes
If you notice that these symptoms suddenly occur in the fall when you are outdoors or exposed to pollen, it’s quite likely that you suffer from fall allergies. However, if you want an official diagnosis, talk to your doctor or an allergist about allergy testing.
It’s worth noting that some doctors may advise against allergy testing if you have severe allergies, are taking certain medications, or have certain skin conditions such as severe eczema or psoriasis.
How Can I Avoid Fall Allergies?
Allergic reactions can be annoying, uncomfortable and inconvenient. Let’s take a look at three things you can do to avoid them and minimize your discomfort.
Know your allergy triggers
Allergic rhinitis is triggered by various allergens. During spring and summer, the culprits tend to be tree pollen and grass pollen whereas fall allergens are primarily mold spores and ragweed pollen.
If you’re struggling with hay fever symptoms when outdoors during the late summer or fall, chances are you have a mold and/or ragweed allergy.
Avoid mold spores and ragweed pollen
Now that you know what triggers fall allergies, you can try to avoid exposure to those substances. While it may not always be possible to completely avoid places with ragweed pollen, you can make informed decisions based on the weather forecast and minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. Just as you would monitor the pollen count in summer, you can track pollen counts and mold levels in fall too. In fact, the National Allergy Bureau has an online resource dedicated specifically to this.
One fall activity to avoid in general is raking leaves as it involves high exposure to mold spores. Patients with allergies should wear a mask, preferably an N95, when doing outdoor work as well as vacuuming and dusting.
Top tip: If you have been outdoors, leave shoes at your front door as they carry dirt and allergens into your home. and take a shower as soon as you arrive at home. This will help make sure that you don’t bring outside pollen or mold spores into the house.
Medication and treatment
It won’t always be possible to avoid outdoor activities (and why should you have to). In order to manage your allergies in a way that allows you to carry on with your life, you may need to consider medication and other treatment. Many allergy medications are available over-the-counter whereas some may require prescriptions.
When it comes to managing allergy symptoms, you can consider preventative medication, focus on allergy relief or try a combination of both.
Preventative methods include immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots). This is a popular solution as it provides long term relief for many allergy sufferers. Another type of immunotherapy (sublingual immunotherapy allergy tablets or ‘SLIT’) can also help prevent allergies. Unlike the shot which lasts for a while, the tablet option needs to be administered daily.
Meanwhile, symptom relief options can include:
- Nasal sprays
- Steroid sprays (corticosteroid)
- Eye drops
While these provide symptom relief, some of them work best if they are administered before exposure to allergens. Make sure you talk to your pharmacist and read the label instructions carefully to get the best use out of your allergy medication.
What About Indoor Allergens?
Another reason you might experience allergy symptoms year-round is exposure to indoor allergens. These can include:
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Cockroach droppings
- Pet dander
How to minimize indoor allergens
Keeping your house clean is key to minimizing your exposure to indoor allergens. Some things you can do to help include:
- Avoiding carpets if possible
- Vacuuming regularly (at least once or twice a week)
- Speak to your vet and ask about ways to minimize pet allergens.
- Avoiding indoor plants
- Keeping windows and doors closed to prevent pollen from coming in
- Eliminating cockroaches
- Reducing moisture in areas like kitchens and bathrooms
- Using a dehumidifier to remove mold and dust mites from the air (ideally choose one with a HEPA filter). This is especially helpful in the bedroom to decrease exposure to allergens during sleep.
Don’t Let Allergies Rule Your Life — Take Back Control!
It’s no secret that allergies are a huge pain in the neck. But, with the right know-how, allergy season doesn’t have to be painful. Whether it’s with careful avoidance tactics, medication, allergy shots or vigilance at home, you can take control of your allergies and enjoy the beautiful colors of fall.
Most people manage seasonal allergies at home with over-the-counter medicine, but in some cases you may need some assistance from a health care professional. If uncontrollable allergies are getting in the way of your day to day life, make an appointment with Babylon Health online practitioners today.