Fall Allergies

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Do you have a cold that lasts most of the fall? Are your eyes itchy, does your nose get stuffy and runny, or do you just feel plain exhausted? If so, you may have fall allergies.

During the fall the most prominent allergens are weeds and molds. Ragweed is the most likely weed to trigger symptoms of allergy, but other weeds such as plantain, lamb’s quarter, kochia and mugwort can cause the same misery. Ragweed is found predominantly in the east and midwest of the United States. One plant can produce 1 MILLION grains of pollen a day, and the pollen can travel more than 100 miles!!! Ragweed typically begins pollinating during mid-August, with pollen levels peaking in mid-September and dying down after the first hard frost. Pollen counts tend to be highest on warm, dry and windy days and between the hours of 10am-3pm. Therefore, all we have to do is walk outside to get exposed to this pollen.

Exposure can be increased by raking leaves, which is a common activity in the fall. Raking not only stirs up pollen that has settled on the dead leaves, but it also stirs up mold, the other common fall-time allergen. Mold exposure can trigger allergy symptoms and is also a common trigger for asthma. In fact, the worst time of year for people with asthma is the fall due to the combination of fall allergens (weed and mold) and the onset of viral illnesses, particularly respiratory viruses.

Symptoms of fall allergies include runny/stuffy/itchy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing and headache. Some people with ragweed allergy will also notice itching of their mouth after eating fresh banana, cantaloupe, watermelon or honeydew melons. These symptoms called Oral Allergy Syndrome are triggered when the body sees a similar protein found in ragweed and in these fresh fruits.

If you think you might have fall allergies, make an appointment with a Board Certified Allergist for testing and treatment. Happy Fall!

-Dr. Megan

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