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Are you still sneezing even though the leaves are changing? Unfortunately for some, seasonal allergies can be triggered in the fall and are often just as severe as the spring and summer months. Here’s what you need to know about fall allergies and how you can manage your symptoms.
What are seasonal allergies?
“Seasonal allergies develop when your immune system overreacts to a substance in your environment,” said Nicole Zucconi, D.O., Primary Care Physician at Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Millville. “The immune system responds to the perceived threat by releasing histamines into the bloodstream, causing symptoms like coughing and sneezing.”
Seasonal allergies are more common in the spring and summer when trees, grasses and weeds release pollen into the air. Allergy seasons vary across the country, depending on climate factors such as local pollen levels, wind, temperature and humidity.
Fall allergy triggers and symptoms
“The most common cause of fall allergies is ragweed, which releases pollen from August to November,” said Dr. Zucconi. “Most people who suffer from spring and summer allergies experience a reaction to ragweed as well.”
Ragweed grows all across the United States, but it’s most commonly found in the midwest and along the east coast. Even if it doesn’t grow in your area, ragweed pollen can travel by wind for hundreds of miles. Other pollen-based allergy triggers include cedar elm, sagebrush and tumbleweed.
Mold is another common allergy trigger in the fall. Mold spores tend to grow in damp areas outdoors, making wet piles of leaves ideal locations. Mold spores can travel through the air and tend to linger in places with warmer climates.
Like spring and summer allergies, fall allergy symptoms include:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchiness around the nose and eyes
Diagnosis and treatment options
“Your doctor can help you figure out whether you’re experiencing seasonal allergies,” said Dr. Zucconi. “After asking about your symptoms and medical history, they may suggest a skin test or blood test to determine your allergens.”
Treatment options for seasonal allergies include:
- Antihistamines to help stop sneezing and itching
- Decongestants to help get rid of congestion
- Nasal sprays to reduce inflammation and irritation in the nasal passages
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, a series of allergy shots containing small amounts of allergens to trigger a reaction. Over time, this form of treatment can reduce or eliminate your symptoms.
Talk to your doctor if you think you are experiencing seasonal allergies. They can help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.