Many of us are all too familiar with those mighty pollen clouds that sweep through our neighborhoods in the spring, painting everything in their paths with a yellow hue. We often associate the springtime pollen influx with the worst of our sneezy, misty-eyed allergy woes. But for the 50 million Americans  living with nasal allergies, autumn’s allergens can pack an equally nasty punch. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease the effects of fall allergies. Here’s your guide to surviving this year’s Fall allergy season.
Facts about Fall allergies
Hay Fever, also known as Allergic Rhinitis, occurs when the immune system is aggravated by airborne irritants. The most common culprit is Ragweed. Ragweed pollen levels begin to increase in early August and can peak throughout September and October. However, there is a host of other plant species that produce troublesome pollen all throughout the season [1,2]. Fall also supports a different kind of allergen offender: mold. When trees begin to shed their foliage, those colorful, leafy heaps on your lawn become prime real estate for mold spores. The spores then multiply, eventually being collected and dispersed by wind. These menaces freely enter our homes by hitching a ride on clothing, shoes, hair- even through ventilation systems- to wreak havoc on our immune systems. Fall allergens ignite our worst Hay Fever symptoms, including sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, and more [1,3].
For some, seasonal allergies can be debilitating. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that seasonal allergy symptoms can contribute to decreased concentration and sleep disorders. These issues are linked to an increased risk of traffic accidents and school or job-related injuries. Additionally, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States . When it comes to protecting yourself and your family against these ailments, the key is to be proactive. Are you ready to take on this year’s Fall allergy season?
Your Best Defense
Your first line of defense against fall allergies is to understand when and how severely allergens will occur in your area. Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America compiles a list of Allergy Capitals. Allergy Capitals are the most challenging places for seasonal allergy sufferers to live. The 100 U.S. cities on this list are scored based on pollen and mold counts, allergy medicine consumed, and the number of board-certified Allergists per patient .
As of 2021, the top 10 Allergy Capitals are:
- Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Richmond, Virginia
- Wichita, Kansas
- McAllen, Texas
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Springfield, Massachusetts
- New Haven, Connecticut
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
A variety of treatments are available for fall allergy symptoms. Non-prescription allergy remedies are widely available in most places. These include oral antihistamines, sinus rinses, decongestants, and nasal sprays. While these options may provide temporary relief, they are best used in conjunction with limited exposure to fall-time allergens. Some allergy sufferers have reported success with naturopathic remedies and acupuncture. For severe cases, long-term immunotherapy might be recommended by a doctor. You should always consult your doctor before starting a new allergy treatment regimen .
Reduce your exposure. An Allergist can help you identify what your specific fall allergy triggers are . Pollen levels fluctuate throughout the season, so it’s helpful to check local resources for the day’s allergen count. News stations and weather-related internet sources offer reliable allergen forecasts for your area [2,4]. When pollen and mold are lurking, your best defense is to limit your exposure. The following strategies can help keep these little irritants out of your home, out of your airways, and hopefully out of mind.
Protection in the great outdoors. Just because it’s allergy season doesn’t mean that you should banish yourself to the indoors! Follow these tips to protect yourself from fall allergy triggers while you enjoy your favorite outdoor activities.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Wear a hat that covers your hair completely.
- Avoid hanging your laundry to dry when pollen levels are high. Pollen clings to damp linens.
- Stay away from lawn mowing, weed pulling, gardening, and other activities that stir up allergens- or, if you must tackle those outdoor chores, wear a mask while you do it.
- Consider that pollen counts are usually highest in the morning, and try to limit your outdoor time during those peak hours.
- Do your best to avoid being outside when the weather is especially dry and windy. [2,4]
Secure your home from Allergen Invaders.
- Take off your shoes before entering your home.
- Change your clothes immediately when returning from outdoor activities.
- Shower thoroughly before getting into bed.
- Wipe your pets off with a towel before letting them back inside.
- When pollen counts start to soar, it’s time to keep your windows and doors shut.
- Your home’s greatest defense is clean air. Lab-tested Wynd air purifiers remove Fall allergens and release pure, breathable air into your space.
- Use high-efficiency heating and cooling filters and be sure to maintain them regularly.
- Wash your bedding in hot water on a weekly basis.
- Use a vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter [2,4].
If the onset of fall fills you with dread over looming allergy symptoms, you are not alone. Fortunately, some experts are dedicated to observing, reducing, and educating the public about the many factors associated with seasonal allergies. With preparation, resources, and support, relief can start right now. Freedom from allergy sickness means freedom to enjoy life. To be yourself. To conquer the world! Let this Fall season be defined by your greatness, not by your allergy symptoms.
Originally Written By Guest Contributor: Jessica Lamb, Updated by Melanie Eyssen for 2021
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. (2018, Sept 25). 2018 Fall Allergy Capitals Report: Is Your City on Our List? Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://community.aafa.org/blog/2018-fall-allergy-capitals-report-is-your-city-on-our-list
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (2017, December 28). Seasonal Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://acaai.org/allergies/seasonal-allergies
- Athsma and Allergy Foundation of America. (2021). AAFA 2021 Allergy Capitals Report. Retrieved September 8th, 2021, from https://community.aafa.org/blog/2021-allergy-capitals-report-seasonal-rankings-by-city-for-spring-and-fall
- Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 12). Seasonal Allergies: Nip them in the Bud. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343