With the arrival of autumn, families embrace fall traditions like warm sweaters, hot chocolate and playing in big piles of yellow, orange and red leaves. But it's important to remember that those leaves, and other autumn allergens like weeds and mold, can turn fall into a season of sniffling, sneezing and watery, swollen eyes.
"Fall allergies can make the changing of seasons a challenging time for families," says allergist Andrea Jones, MD, of Colorado Allergy & Asthma Centers in Denver, Colorado. "Luckily, there are some easy ways to prevent fall allergies and enjoy the transition to autumn without the discomfort."
What are the Symptoms of Fall Allergies?
Autumn allergy symptoms vary among different people, but common ones include:
- Asthma attacks
- Itchy eyes
- Runny Nose
- Sore or itchy throat
- Swollen eyelids
- Trouble breathing
What Can I Do to Prevent Fall Allergies?
Don't let fall allergies hold you back from enjoying your favorite activities this autumn. These simple steps will help you manage your fall allergy symptoms.
- Rid your home of fall allergens. If your home has damp areas, like a basement, invest in a dehumidifier to keep your home free of mold and mildew. Keep outdoor allergens outside by keeping windows and doors closed or using screens.
- Give yard work the season off. If you're a fall allergy sufferer, yard work can irritate allergy symptoms. Consider paying a neighbor or relative to maintain your yard for the season. If your child suffers from fall allergies, it's a good idea to keep them tucked inside with an indoor activity for a few hours while you tackle the yard work.
- Keep fall allergens at bay with regular washing. Rinse your skin and hair of pollen and other allergens with quick daily showers, and keep fall allergens off your clothes by washing them between each time you wear them --even outerwear. "It's also a good idea to wash your hands throughout the day, more frequently than you might otherwise," explains Dr. Jones. "Regular hand washing during fall allergy season keeps the pollen and allergens away from your nose and face."
- Exercise in the evenings instead. If you're dealing with allergy symptoms, an afternoon jog or mid-day outdoor workout may aggravate symptoms. Pollen counts are highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so opting for evening exercise instead can help you avoid those pesky fall allergy symptoms.
- Try a nasal rinse. "I often recommend using a saline solution to wash out the nose," says Dr. Jones. "A nose rinse at the end of the day, especially after being outside, can help remove pollen from the nose." Nasal rinses work by flushing the nasal passages, rinsing away allergens that can trigger your allergy symptoms, like mucus and dust. Talk to your doctor before trying a nasal rinse for fall allergies.
- Manage allergies with medications. Medications are available in many forms, including oral tablets, liquid medication, nose sprays and eyedrops. Steroid nasal sprays and antihistamines are available over-the-counter and are helpful for fall allergies. Nose sprays tend to be more effective than antihistamines, but they require consistent use, meaning you have to use it every day to get the best results. Some of these medications have side effects, so it is best to discuss these treatments with your doctor. There are also other prescription medications available, which may be more effective.
For patients who don't prefer regular medications, Dr. Jones recommends considering allergy shots. These shots help build your tolerance to allergens and can be effective for years at a time.