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Allergies are commonly associated with the start of spring, but plenty of people experience fall allergies too, even before the season officially starts. As temperatures in the final stretch of summer occasionally dip below the season’s typical boiling highs, fall allergens often get stirred up prematurely. Plus, pollen levels have broken longstanding record highs at certain points this year, a trend that could continue through the fall. If you’re already experiencing fall allergies, here’s what might be causing them.
The occasional cool nights and warm, rather than scorchingly hot, days of August can stir up ragweed pollen. Similarly, weather conditions common in September and October can release ragweed pollen. Even store-bought fruits and vegetables such as melons, zucchini, and bananas can bring ragweed pollen into your home.
Although ragweed is native to areas of the U.S. closer to Mexico, the plant is prevalent across the country. Additionally, ordinary winds can disperse ragweed pollen hundreds of miles from its origin. The onset of fall and the weeks preceding it thus often see spikes in seasonal allergies, because three in every four people who suffer spring allergies are also allergic to ragweed.
Mold isn’t just a fungus that grows on spoiled food or accumulates in your shower. It’s a ubiquitous class of fungi that can grow pretty much anywhere damp. As rain becomes more common during the transition from the humidity of summer into a cooler, drier season, mold has plenty of incentive to grow.
That said, mold tends to be a more active allergen once fall actually begins. The piles of leaves that have fallen from trees provide great spots for water to pool – and, therefore, mold to thrive.
Ever a common allergen, dust mites thrive during the most humid parts of summer. Of course, dust mites are always around, so as summer transitions into fall, these mites become a leading source of fall allergies. Dust mites are especially common to introduce into the air when using long-untouched objects for the first time or cleaning household dust. Later in the fall, turning your heat on can also reintroduce these mites to the air.
How do I know it’s allergies and not a cold?
The change in weather conditions as summer fades and fall starts can certainly bring about allergies. Temperature changes can also make your body more susceptible to the ever-undefeatable common cold. Allergies and the cold have many common symptoms, so you could wind up trying to treat one when you should be addressing the other.
For example, coughing, sneezing, congestion, and runny nose can all be a symptom of both allergies and the cold, though coughing is more common with colds than with allergies. Aches, pains, and fever, though, are exclusively cold symptoms (and may well be flu symptoms too). On the other hand, itchy eyes are rarely a symptom of the cold, and a sore throat is rarely an allergy symptom. Consider all your symptoms before deciding which ailment is affecting you.
If you usually suffer from fall allergies, how do you deal with them? Share your stories and advice in the comments!