While the season may be short, the allergies that arrive with the fall weather can make this time of year feel decades longer. Fall is a busy time for most people, and the last thing you need is seasonal allergies slowing you down or preventing you from enjoying the beautiful weather.
Whatever your strategy, knowing how to avoid and minimize your exposure to common fall allergens is key to surviving the season.
Common Fall Allergy Triggers
Fall allergy symptoms are much the same as springtime symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes, and throat
If you have asthma, fall allergens may trigger it.
Also called hay fever, ragweed allergies are a common occurrence in the fall. Most people who suffer springtime pollen allergies will also be affected by ragweed. Each of these flowering plants can produce near one billion grains of pollen, which spread throughout the late summer and fall. Ragweed pollen peaks around September but can sometimes last until October and even later, depending on your location and the weather.
To minimize your exposure to ragweed pollen, stay inside when the pollen count is high—this is usually during the morning and early afternoon. You can check your local pollen count in the newspaper or online, where most news stations publish a daily report.
In addition to staying inside, keep your pets clean if they play outdoors, and avoid air drying your laundry outside.
Unfortunately for fans of jumping in crisp leaf piles, that damp, dark environment is the perfect home for mold. Mold allergies affect people year-round, but they often flare in fall, when wind and raking leaves can easily transport the spores.
Wipe off your shoes to ensure you don’t track outdoor mold carriers inside the house. Mold and mildew can also sprout inside the house in similar ideal environments, like the basement, so it can be a good idea to keep a dehumidifier running in the lower levels.
If you can’t convince someone else to handle your leaf raking for you, wear a mask over your nose and mouth to protect yourself from spores. Take care of the leaf piles in your lawn as soon as possible—the longer they sit there, the more time mold has to grow.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that live in dust and feed on human skin flakes. While dust mites aren’t harmful in the traditional sense, their feces and body fragments are common fall allergy triggers.
Dust mites like to hide in moist, humid places, like furnaces and air filters, as well as in carpet and upholstery. Clear your air vents and replace your air filter at the beginning of the season to minimize the chance of dust mites and their residue circulating throughout your home. Keep your house otherwise clean by vacuuming and dusting more often than normal.
If you suspect you have seasonal fall allergies, talk to your doctor, and request an allergy test. There are a number of nasal sprays, decongestants, and antihistamines that can help you manage your symptoms until the season subsides.
Want more tips for staying healthy this season? Visit the Specialized Health and Safety blog.