As most allergy sufferers will tell you, allergy symptoms can always be bothersome, turning any time of year into sneezing season. A runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat can arise as the days get shorter and the leaves begin to change.
The fall can be especially difficult for people who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen. But these seasonal elements aren't the only triggers that can make symptoms worse this time of year. There are also a few lesser known triggers. Here are four things you might not know about fall allergies, courtesy of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:
* Hay fever - Hay fever, a term from a bygone era, actually has nothing to do with hay. Instead, it's a general term used to describe the symptoms of late summer allergies. Ragweed is a common cause of hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis. The plant usually begins to pollinate in mid-August and may continue to be a problem until a hard freeze, depending on where you live. See an allergist for prescription medications to control symptoms or to see if allergy shots may be your best option.
* Lingering warm weather - While most people enjoy Indian summer, unseasonably warm temperatures can make rhinitis symptoms last longer. Mold spores can also be released when humidity is high, or the weather is dry and windy. Be sure to begin taking medications before your symptoms start. Track your allergy symptoms with MyNasalAllergyJournal.org and visit with your allergist to find relief.
* Pesky leaves - Some folks might find it difficult to keep up with raking leaves throughout the autumn. But for allergy sufferers, raking presents its own problem. It can stir agitating pollen and mold into the air, causing allergy and asthma symptoms. Those with allergies should wear an NIOSH-rated N95 mask when raking leaves, mowing the lawn and gardening.
* School allergens - It's not only seasonal pollen and mold that triggers allergies this time of year. Kids are often exposed to classroom irritants and allergy triggers. These can include chalk dust and classroom pets. Students with food allergies may also be exposed to allergens in the lunch room.Kids with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) may experience attacks during recess or gym class. Help your child understand what can trigger their allergies and asthma, and how they can avoid symptoms. Be sure to notify teachers and the school nurse of any emergency medications, such as quick relief inhalers and epinephrine.
No matter the season, it's important for those who think they may be suffering from allergies or asthma to see a board-certified allergist. An allergist can help you develop a treatment plan, which can include both medication and avoidance techniques.