How to manage fall allergies
8/28/2023 by Nisha Patel, M.D.
As fall approaches, we look forward to outdoor activities such as apple picking, pumpkin patches and hay rides. The leaves begin to change colors and drop to the ground, but with the weather change, you may notice you're not feeling your best. Seasonal allergies can make you feel miserable, but this guide is here to help you manage your fall allergies.
What causes fall allergies?
Many people suffering from seasonal allergies have sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, coughing or congestion symptoms. It's common for those who suffer from spring or summer allergies to also have fall allergies. Common triggers of fall allergies include:
- Ragweed: Ragweed is considered the most common trigger of fall allergies. Ragweed pollen season starts in August and can last into October. Even if you don't live in an area where ragweed is prevalent, the pollen can travel hundreds of miles to your area, causing your symptoms.
- Molds: They like to grow in damp, cool areas of the house. In the fall, piles of damp leaves are also an ideal place for mold to grow.
- Dust mites: These tiny bugs live in house dust. As we spend more time indoors in colder weather, we are exposed to more dust mites, which can worsen fall allergies.
How can I treat my allergies?
There are several medications that can help manage your allergies.
- Oral antihistamines are daily pills that can help relieve your symptoms and are available over the counter. Examples include cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra) and loratadine (Claritin).
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays can be used once a day in each nostril to help relieve nasal symptoms such as sneezing and congestion. They are available over the counter and examples include fluticasone propionate (Flonase), budesonide (Rhinocort) and triamcinolone (Nasacort).
- Cromolyn nasal spray can also prevent allergy symptoms if used before you are exposed to the allergen. This over-the-counter therapy can be used several times a day as needed.
- Allergy shots are another option that can be prescribed by a clinician if over-the-counter options are not controlling your symptoms. these can help your body become desensitized to allergens. Speak to your healthcare clinician about whether this option would be the right choice for you.
Other tips to manage symptoms
- Wear a mask while doing outdoor chores.
- Check the pollen count on a local weather report and try to stay inside at times when the pollen is at its peak. In the fall, ragweed pollen levels are often highest in the morning.
- Keep your home and car windows closed to avoid allergens from entering inside.
- When indoors, vacuum often and use a high-efficiency air filter to catch any allergens that may have made their way inside.
Nisha Patel, M.D., is a resident physician in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She earned her medical degree at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is interested in Allergy & Immunology, focusing on allergic diseases and women's health.