Allergies can strike all year long, but you don't have to suffer.
Itchy eyes? Runny nose? Scratchy throat? Even though it's fall, you may have allergies. Different seasons bring different allergens and, unfortunately, fall allergies are just as bothersome as any other season. From late August to November the main culprits that will have you racing to find fall allergy relief are ragweed and mold.
Fall Allergy Triggers
Ragweed grows all over the country but is most commonly found in rural areas in the East and Midwest. Even if there are no plants near you, pollen can travel hundreds of miles. According to WebMD, about 75 percent of people allergic to spring plants also have reactions to ragweed.
Unfortunately, ragweed is not your only enemy. Mold is not just a problem in your basement and bathroom—it thrives outside, too. It grows in damp places like soil, compost piles, and wet leaf piles. Mold spores, like ragweed pollen, can travel through the air and can cause allergy symptoms.
Other fall allergy triggers include:
- Plants, such as sagebrush, tumbleweed, and pigweed
- Dust mites
- Pet dander and fur
Fall Allergy Treatment and Management
Allergic reactions occur when your body misidentifies a substance, such as pollen, as harmful to the body, and then your immune system releases histamines to fight off the allergens. Interestingly enough, these same histamines are also the cause of your allergy symptoms—such as a runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, or wheezing. That's why antihistamines, medication that suppresses the amount of histamine in your body, are often the first line of defense to treating your allergy symptoms.
While there is no cure for allergies, there are some preventative practices, over the counter medications, and prescriptions that can help you manage and proactively treat them.
What You Can Do
- Use a dehumidifier. Dust mites and mold thrive in humid environments. A dehumidifier helps take the moisture out of the air so that these allergens can't grow.
- Shower (frequently). If you wash the pollen and mold spores from your skin and hair, they are less likely to affect you. It's best to shower at night after you've been out all day.
- Check pollen counts. You can easily check pollen levels on your weather site or app of choice. Limit time outdoors on days when counts are high.
- Keep windows closed and use an air conditioner. To keep things cool at night, use an air conditioner instead of sleeping with the windows open.
- Wear a protective mask when gardening. Because allergens like to hang out in leaves and moist soil, you should wear a protective mask when you tend to your yard or garden. Wearing long sleeves and gardening gloves can protect you from the elements as well.
Medication You Can Take
- Oral antihistamines such as Allegra Allergy, Zyrtec, and Rite Aid Allergy can help relieve a runny nose, itching, sneezing, and watery eyes.
- An oral decongestant such as Sudafed can provide temporary relief from nasal congestion.
- Decongestant sprays such as Afrin, Sinex, and Neo-Synephrine shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues in your nose to help you breathe more easily.
- Steroid nasal sprays like Flonase and Nasacort, which were once only available by prescription, are now available over the counter.
- Antihistamine eye drops like Zaditor, Rite Aid Eye Allergy Relief Drops, Clear Eyes Maximum Itchy Eye Relief, or Visine-A can soothe red, itchy eyes. Helpful hint: The A listed after a brand name means the product is designed to treat allergies.
If OTCs fail to help you find fall allergy relief, speak to your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist about prescription medication or allergy shots (a form of immunotherapy).
Allergies can sometimes be a hassle, but choosing the right treatment plan can eliminate your discomfort and get you back outdoors to enjoy all that fall has to offer.
By Joelle Klein
WebMD, Fall Allergies
College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Seasonal Allergies
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American, Allergy Facts and Figures
Consumer Reports, Best drugs to treat seasonal allergies
College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Four Things You May Not Know About Fall Allergies