Seasonal allergies aren’t limited to spring. For many people, the onset of autumn — and the beginning of ragweed pollination — brings itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, and other telltale allergy symptoms. Here’s more on what triggers fall allergies and the best ways to treat and prevent them.
What causes fall allergies?
While spring allergies are primarily caused by grass and tree pollen, the main culprit of fall allergies is ragweed pollen, which begins in late summer, peaks in September, and can continue into October or even November.
Other pollen-producing weeds that can cause fall allergy symptoms include:
Mold is another common trigger of fall allergies, with piles of fallen leaves a ripe breeding ground for mold growth.
Climate change and fall allergies
Like all seasonal allergies, fall allergies have intensified in recent years as a result of climate change. Rising temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have extended the pollination of many plants, including ragweed, which allows for a longer allergy season.
How to prevent fall allergies
Even if you are more prone to allergies than others, there are steps you can take to prevent symptoms. Here are our top prevention tips specifically for fall allergies.
Pay attention to pollen
Avoiding known allergens is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. To limit your exposure to ragweed pollen, shut the windows as much as possible on windy days when pollen counts are high. (You can find your local pollen count online or in a weather app.) If you’re going outside on a high-pollen day, wearing a hat and sunglasses can protect your face from pollen and reduce the chances of symptoms developing.
Appreciate leaves from afar
If you are sensitive to mold, it’s best to have someone else rake the leaves — and be sure to toss those aging jack-o-lanterns well before they start to rot. If you have to do some fall yard work yourself, wear a mask to reduce mold exposure as much as possible.
Be mindful of indoor mold growth as well. Using a dehumidifier can help you keep the humidity in your home at optimal levels.
Keep the allergens outside
An outdoor pollen encounter can bring the allergen into your home. To keep the house or apartment pollen-free, change your clothes and take off your shoes as soon as you're inside. Wash clothes and bedding regularly as an additional preventive step.
These precautions are especially important if you have allergy-induced asthma, the most common type of asthma, which occurs when exposure to pollen, mold, or other allergens results in inflammation in the airways.
Top treatments for fall allergies
Although fall allergies are triggered by different substances than spring allergies, they can be treated with the same over-the-counter allergy medications.
Over-the-counter nasal sprays including Nasacort® (triamcinolone), Flonase® (fluticasone), and Rhinocort® (budesonide) prevent nasal inflammation and reduce stuffiness and sneezing. They may be taken in advance of allergy season to potentially prevent the onset of symptoms altogether.
Eye drops can relieve itchy, red, or watery eyes.
Oral antihistamines including Zyrtec® (cetirizine), Clarinex® (desloratadine), Allegra® (fexofenadine), Alavert® (loratadine), Claritin® (loratadine), Xyzal® (levocetirizine), and Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) can be taken preventatively or on an as-needed basis to reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching. These medications offer fast relief, going into effect from 15 minutes up to two hours. Benadryl can cause drowsiness and is not recommended to take before driving or other activities that require your attention.
Decongestants including Afrin® and Sudafed® can be taken to relieve stuffiness, however they can worsen symptoms when taken over an extended period of time and should not be used as a long-term treatment.
Many of the above OTC allergy medications are available for purchase at the Essentials Store in the Alto app! To browse the selection, tap the "Store" icon along the bottom of the app or in your account on desktop.
If you have allergy-induced asthma, allergy medications will likely be a part of your asthma treatment plan, but they are not a substitute for asthma medication. In addition to consulting an allergist, speak with your primary care provider as soon as asthma symptoms appear so that you can find the best treatment plan.
Immunotherapy for severe allergies
If your allergy symptoms persist after trying over-the-counter medications and consulting with your primary care provider, it may be time to see a specialist. Allergists and immunologists have extensive training in allergy treatment. In addition to helping identify specific allergy triggers, these specialists can also facilitate additional treatment options like immunotherapy. This process gradually exposes you to allergens to decrease your sensitivity to them. It can be administered as injections or sublingual tablets placed beneath the tongue.
Stock up on allergy essentials in the Alto app
Purchase allergy season essentials like Claritin, Flonase, Zyrtec, Allegra and more right from your Alto account. You can order these over-the-counter products whenever you need them or add them to your next prescription delivery.
If your allergy treatment plan includes prescription medications, we can help. We’ll coordinate with your doctor and insurance to offer your medications at the best price we can find. Our expert pharmacists are available via in-app messaging to answer any questions you may have about symptoms or side effects.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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