Think allergies are only associated with the spring and summer? Think again — you might want to keep your tissue box at the ready, because autumn is also synonymous with allergies.
Yes, Autumn Allergies are a “Thing”
Many people associate allergies with the spring and summer months, but just because the weather is turning colder doesn’t mean you’re immune from itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose. Your immune system is just as likely to pull a few tricks rather than treats in October as it is in April.
What causes fall allergies?
Allergies occur when your immune system perceives an otherwise harmless substance as a threat. In response, it releases chemicals called histamines into the bloodstream, prompting irritation of the eyes and nose.
Who do fall allergens affect most?
This is especially dangerous for people with asthma; allergies can cause inflammation of the airways, leading to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Not only are these symptoms unpleasant, but in rare cases, they can lead to anaphylactic shock. Getting control of your allergies is especially important in preventing side effects.
Fall Allergy Prevention Strategies
Experts recommend the following strategies to prevent fall allergies from making your life miserable:
- Learn which allergens are common in the fall. Pollen is the big culprit in the spring and summer months, and the same holds true in the fall. Ragweed produces copious amounts of pollen every autumn, triggering reactions in sensitive individuals. Mold is also common this time of year; decaying leaves and moisture cause explosive growth in mold spores. Raking and jumping into piles of leaves (a favorite childhood pastime) releases them into the air. Dust mites are problematic year-round, but are often a bigger nuisance in the fall, when you are spending more time indoors. These microscopic organisms thrive in warm, moist environments, and you’re likely to be cranking up the heat and humidifier to moisten dry air and ward off the autumn chill.
- Make sure your symptoms are actually allergy-related. Many substances can trigger reactions in people, even when they don’t have an allergy. Mold is an excellent example. A key sign of allergies is when you experience itchy eyes, nose or skin; this is produced by histamines created by your immune system. An allergist can give you a skin or blood test to confirm whether you are allergic to something or simply experiencing irritation.
- Check pollen and mold counts before venturing outdoors. It’s best to keep track of allergens before heading outside. They are often listed in the newspaper or online via downloadable apps. Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning, so try delaying outdoor errands until after 10 a.m.
- Protect yourself with a hat and sunglasses. Pollen and mold spores drifting through the air can easily get tangled up in your hair and affect your eyes. Cover your head and, if you don’t already wear eyeglasses, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses when going outside. Make sure to wash them frequently.
- Keep windows and doors closed. Shutting windows and doors will keep allergens from infiltrating your home. If it’s too warm, run the air-conditioning. You might also consider investing in a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration system to filter out even minuscule substances that can cause irritation.
- Change your clothes when you get home. Pollen, mold spores and other substances can cling to your clothing, so change out of them into something you only wear indoors once you get home. For added protection, take a shower after you’ve been outdoors or before going to bed.
- Clean your home on a regular basis. Keeping your home clean prevents allergens from building up. At the very least, focus on those areas you spend the most time in, such as the bedroom and living room. Wash your linens and vacuum once a week (don’t forget upholstered furniture). Consider allergy-proof covers for your sheets and bedding.
- Run a dehumidifier in the bedroom. Dust mites thrive on moisture; experts recommend keeping the humidity in your home below 50 percent to prevent them from getting out of hand. A dehumidifier is a great investment for areas such as the bedroom.
- Stock up on allergy medications. Ideally these other strategies will help reduce allergy and asthma attacks, but it’s a good idea to have a regular supply of antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays on hand for periods when your symptoms flare up.
For more information, call or schedule an appointment with the experts at Prescott ENT today.