Seasonal allergies affect more than 35 million Americans and cost the U.S. economy more than $7 billion in lost productivity. When it comes to seasonal allergies, most people think springtime, but allergy symptoms aren’t only present in April and May. When the leaves start to fall and the cooler temperatures hit, allergies go into overdrive due to ragweed, dust mites, or mold. Allergies affect every person in a different way; while one person’s reaction may be mild, someone else may develop severe symptoms- this is why allergy management is so important. While mild allergies are seen as inconvenient, severe allergies can be life-threatening.
Inhalant allergens, which trigger allergy symptoms when inhaled, are divided into two categories: perennial and seasonal. Perennial allergens are present throughout the year, and seasonal allergens have distinct periods of time in which they are heavily present in the environment. Trees pollinate in the spring, grasses pollinate in the summer and weeds pollinate in the fall. The main culprit for fall allergies is ragweed, but dust mites and mold are close runner-ups.
About three-quarters of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic the ragweed plant. A single plant can produce a billion pollen grains in a season and can travel up to 400 miles. This yellow flowering weed grows in vacant lots, along the road, and in open fields, and here in Texas, the plant can pollinate throughout the winter. For people who are allergic to ragweed, foods such as bananas, melon, zucchini, and tomatoes can also cause allergy symptoms due to a cross-reactivity from your body; the immune system treats the proteins in these foods similarly to pollen.
Dust mites can also cause fall allergies. They are tiny bugs that feed on flakes of skin around the home. While dust mites are common during the humid summer months, they can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall. Dust mites usually die in extreme temperatures or if the humidity drops below 70 percent.
Mold spores are another fall allergy trigger. They are common in soil and in piles of damp leaves. Mold spores are light, very small, and easily inhaled into the lungs. Spores rise high in the atmosphere during the day and fall back to the ground during the cool evenings.
If you suffer from fall allergies, there are ways to minimize your interaction with these allergens; those include: wearing a mask from 5 a.m. – 10 a.m. and on windy days, taking a shower before bed to rinse off allergens from your skin and hair, keeping your windows closed, drying your clothes inside, removing piles of leaves from your property, cleaning heating vents, changing air filters, and using a dehumidifier in your home.
While these methods of avoidance can temporarily help your fall allergy symptoms, the only way to truly treat your seasonal allergies is to undergo allergy testing. If you’re ready to finally find a long-term solution for your allergies, make an appointment today with Dr. Pasha. We’ll have you allergy-free in no time!