Don't Fall Into Despair with Autumn Allergies

When all you want to do is enjoy your pumpkin spice latte, but you can't taste or smell it thanks to a stuffy nose, you know fall (and all the pollen that comes with it) is truly in the air.

It might seem like allergy season should wrap up with the end of summer, but there are plenty of pollen-producing plants to keep you sneezing and wheezing throughout fall.

Enemy No. 1
One of the biggest culprits is ragweed. Common ragweed plants create enormous amounts of pollen, as a single plant is capable of producing millions of small pollen grains that often travel long distances.1

In many areas of the country, ragweed pollen levels are highest in early to mid-September.2 And with up to 26% of the U.S. population sensitized to ragweed pollen3, there's potential for a lot of people to experience symptoms in the fall.

Not ingredients in polyjuice potion
Ragweed might be at the top of the list of offenders, but there are plenty of other weeds causing problems in the fall. And all of them have names that sound like they were featured in a Potions class at Hogwarts.

  • Common Pigweed: pollinates in the summer and fall4
  • Goosefoot: wind-pollinated from spring to fall4
  • Mugwort: pollen season is summer and fall4
  • Saltwort: pollinates via wind in summer and fall4
  • Learn more about specific weed allergens, including where they can be found, common symptoms and how to minimize exposure in these Allergen Fact Sheets

    Symptoms got you sad?
    If you are sensitized to any of the above-mentioned weeds (or others not mentioned), you are likely to experience some or all of these common seasonal allergy symptoms:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watering eyes
  • Red, itchy eyes and/or swollen eyelids
  • Itchy throat
  • Swelling of the mouth/airways
  • Is it fall allergies?
    But how do you know if your runny nose is because of that field of weeds you pass on your daily walk or something else?

    A blood test that measures the concentration of specific IgE antibodies in the blood might be the answer. An allergy blood test can rule in or rule out sensitizations to hundreds of allergens with a simple blood sample. Learn more about how to get tested.

    Weeds aren't the only troublemakers
    Fall can be especially difficult for people who have allergic sensitizations to mold because mold spores thrive in damp locations - like piles of fallen leaves, dirt, and rotting wood.5

    Symptoms for mold allergy are similar to those with a pollen allergy, covering everything from nasal congestion to itchy eyes.

    But mold allergy is one of the major risk factors for the development of allergic rhinitis and asthma.6 About 80 of the different fungal species have been linked with respiratory allergies.6

    Asthma Peak Week
    What happens when you mix together fall pollen allergies (we're calling you out here, ragweed), elevated mold counts, and an overall increase in respiratory illness during back-to-school season? You get Asthma Peak Week: the third week of September, when the number of asthma attacks are the highest.7

    What can you do?
    Reducing exposure to one or more allergic triggers may help reduce symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to help you understand your triggers.

    Learn more about how to get tested to determine your allergic sensitizations.

    References

    1. D'Amato, G., Cecchi, L., Bonini, S., Nunes, C., Annesi-Maesano, I., Behrendt, H., Liccardi, G., Popov, T. and Van Cauwenberge, P. (2007), Allergenic pollen and pollen allergy in Europe. Allergy, 62: 976-990. doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2007.01393.x.

    2. Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers. ACAAI website: https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/seasonal-allergies/. Accessed August 2022.

    3. Chen, KW, Marusciac, L, Tamas, P.T., Valenta, R, Panaitescu, C. Ragweed Pollen Allergy: Burden, Characteristics, and Management of an Imported Allergen Source in Europe. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2018;176:163-180.

    4. Steinman H. Weed pollens. Allergy Resources International. 2009. Available from: http://www.immunocapexplorer.com/uploads/cms/asset_brick/asset/10415/52-5107-92_02-Weed_pollens.pdf.

    5. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Outdoor Allergens. Accessed August 2022.

    6. Ozdemir O (2015) Molds and Respiratory Allergy - Part 1. MOJ Immunol 2(2): 00045. DOI: 10.15406/moji.2015.02.00045. Available from: https://medcraveonline.com/MOJI/MOJI-02-00045.pdf.

    7. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Brace Yourselves: The Biggest Week for Asthma Attacks is Coming. Accessed August 2022.

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    Don't Fall Into Despair with Autumn Allergies

    It might seem like allergy season should wrap up with the end of summer, but there are plenty of pollen-producing plants to keep you sneezing and wheezing throughout fall.

    Continue