As anyone with fall allergies knows, allergens don’t go away just because the weather is cooler. The allergens triggering sneezes and itchy eyes while we’re sporting sweaters and apple cider, however, are often different than the ones causing similar symptoms in the spring or summer. Whether you feel the effects of “hay fever” or your battle is year-round, here are the primary autumn allergens that will affect Americans this fall:
Ragweed is the most popular contributor to fall allergy symptoms. About seventeen species of the plant grow all across the US, but it’s found most abundantly in eastern and midwestern states between August and November. When warm temperatures linger into the fall season, one ragweed plant can produce one billion grains of pollen. This fine-powder pollen, released into the air, is what triggers the symptoms of allergy sufferers. Nearly 75 percent of those suffering the sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches, and congestion of pollen allergies have ragweed to thank.
Different types of mold tend to appear in the spring, when the weather becomes warmer and environmental conditions are less dry. They typically remain a common allergy trigger until the first frost. While we tend to imagine mold as an indoor nuisance, the fungus is wont to grow on fallen leaves, logs, and even in uncut grass. Mold spores, which float in the air, are what cause symptoms in people who are allergic to them.
Weeds such as goldenrod, pigweed, and sagebrush grow around the country and can cause allergies during the fall, but they don’t cause symptoms quite as severe as ragweed does. Why? Their pollen is less abundant, or these weeds are pollinated by insects, causing less pollen to be released in droves.
Combating Fall Allergy Symptoms
Many people often mistake fall allergies for a fall cold. If you’ve experienced cold symptoms longer than a week, that bout of sneezing may actually be allergies. While the best way to know for sure is to consult with an allergist, everyone can do their best to prepare themselves and their environments to combat symptoms of all kinds.
Protect yourself (and your kids and guests!) from allergies and allergy-like symptoms with a few tips for the indoors and out:
Know what’s in your air! Want to know the air quality before you get outside? Try out an Allergy Tracker to see which allergy symptoms you should prepare to combat today.
Rake those leaves. Removing all decaying organic matter from the areas surrounding your house can prevent mold spores and other allergens from being released into the air.
Keep your beds protected. What we’re exposed to outside, we often bring inside - no matter how often we clean. Anti-allergen pillows, protectors, and mattress encasements create a protective shell, maintain the quality of your sleeping space, and keep allergens out.
Avoid windy days. We all love the crisp, outdoor air on a fall day, but opting to stay inside when pollen is most likely to be spread through the air will lower your exposure and keep symptoms at bay.
Keep the windows shut. Opening up the house invites fresh air inside, but fresh air is likely to contain those allergens you’re trying to avoid. If possible, opt for a fan or the air conditioning when the house could use some fresh air.
Consider over-the-counter medications. Ask your doctor about medications that are right for you.
While everybody loves a beautiful autumn day, some of us have to take a few extra steps to really enjoy it. Knowing common fall allergens can make all the difference when you’re planning your activities - especially with kids and friends with differing tolerances for ragweed, mold, and more. Throw on that comfy sweater, warm up the apple cider, and keep your environments as fresh as you can this fall!