People usually assume that allergies are most commonly activated in the spring as flowers, trees, and grass are blooming. This produces pollen which triggers spring time allergies. But allergies can occur throughout the year and autumn has its own allergy triggers. So, if you have been feeling allergy related symptoms, you are likely experiencing fall allergies which are not necessarily worse but are activated by different sources.
Also known as hay fever, allergies can be activated during several months throughout the year. Allergies are caused by the immune system mistaking an allergen as a threat to the body and then attacking it. The immune system does this by creating and releasing antibodies to fight the allergen. When the body comes into contact with the allergen again, more antibodies are made as well as histamine and chemical mediators. These chemicals create allergic reactions that produce the symptoms we commonly associate with allergies: runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, itchy nose etc.
Activation of allergies depends on the specific substance, or allergen, that a person is allergic to and when that substance is produced and emitted into the environment. Flowers, grass, trees, and weeds release their particular pollens – a substance plants create to fertilize other plants – at specific times during the year and these are referred to as allergens. Different types of pollen are more prevalent during specific months of the year including the following:
– January – April: pollen released from trees such as pine, ash, poplar, and elm
– Summer months: pollen from grass
– Fall: pollen from weeds
Allergies are not as common during the winter. A person’s experience with allergies depends on several factors including: specific allergens, where one lives, time of year etc. The most common source of seasonal allergies is pollen produced by trees, grass, and weeds. These allergies can be more intense during the spring and summer because warm temperatures (therefore dry climate) allows pollen to stay in the environment longer. However, fall allergies can also flare up and be challenging to deal with.
Pollen widely circulates during fall months, triggering autumn allergies. The most dominant source of pollen during the fall is the ragweed plant which actually blooms from August through October. Ragweed plants grow all over the U.S. and one single plant can produce up to 1 billion grains of pollen during one season. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 75% of people who experience allergies during the springtime, are also impacted by ragweed pollen. Ragweed allergies produce the same symptoms as other seasonal allergies: runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes etc. In addition to ragweed, there are other types of grasses and weeds that can activate fall allergies including:
Pollen from these sources can remain in the environment well into fall months. And as cooler temperatures allow us to still comfortably spend time outside, we can regularly be exposed to these allergens. So, it is important to still be treating your allergies!
Managing Your Allergies
There are no cures for seasonal allergies but there are different ways you can effectively manage your symptoms. Most commonly, people take over the counter medications that alleviate symptoms, this includes:
– Antihistamines: taken orally, antihistamines are used to alleviate the most common symptoms of allergies (Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, etc.)
– Decongestants: taken to specifically relieve nasal congestion and can be taken either orally or via nasal spray.
People also take both antihistamines and decongestants and/or practice a variety of other homeopathic interventions like:
– Rinsing nasal pathways with saline solution to reduce congestion with a neti pot or squeeze bottle. This clears the mucus and allergens in your nasal passages.
– Breathing in steam from a pot or humidifier which can break down the buildup of mucus that causes congestion.
In addition to these methods, there are tips you can practice to help manage allergies including:
– Know the pollen count! You can check the news or look on the internet and if pollen is expected to be high, start taking medications in advance.
– Keep windows and doors closed when pollen is high.
– Limit your time outdoors.
– Remove clothes and shoes worn outside when returning
– Keep the air indoors as clean as possible
At Enticare, our ear, nose, and throat doctors provide treatment for diseases of the ears, nose, and throat in children and adults through surgical and non-surgical techniques. Our team of respiratory therapists can help with allergy issues. Contact us today!