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Common Fall Allergens And How to Avoid Them

In most parts of the country, fall is a time to pull out the boots and long sweaters and enjoy some welcomed cooler weather. But for some with allergies, it could mean you are hiding inside until the first winter frost. While some people think of spring as the toughest time of year for allergies, they can be just as difficult when the weather cools.

Here are some common fall allergens and tips to avoid them, while still making the most of your fall.

Four Autumn Allergens


Most prevalent in rural areas of the East Coast and Midwest, this yellow flowering weed can be a big pain for allergy sufferers. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 75 percent of people who suffer springtime allergies will also be affected by ragweed pollen. This weed is a common cause of hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, which affects 40 million people. However, there are other weeds that also contribute to fall allergies. Certain species of trees, such as elm, cedar and juniper, re-pollenate in the fall and can also produce highly allergic pollen.

Mold & Mildew

Found both outdoors and indoors, these fungi can spread by the wind or your indoor air conditioning. Mold and mildew can also grow year-round in some parts of the country. In late summer and fall, dying or decomposing plants can create concentrations of mold spores. Inside, they can thrive in damp areas or areas with poor circulation, such as the basement, closets, summer homes and cabins—and anywhere there has been flooding or water damage.

Dust Mites

These microscopic arthropods feed primarily on flakes of human skin that are shed naturally around the home. Although not just limited to the fall, dust mites usually die in extreme temperatures or if the humidity drops below 70 percent. Sadly, they are next to impossible to completely rid from your home if home conditions favor their presence.

Pet Dander

Spending the holidays at your aunt’s house who has lots of cats? There’s a good chance that your allergies may get triggered. Up to 40 percent of people with seasonal allergies also have pet allergies. Pet allergies can be triggered by dander, fur, saliva or pet urine. Your pet’s coat may bring in outside allergens into your home as well.

Four Tips To Keep Your Head Clear

If any of these allergens make you want to hide under the covers, don’t fear. William Culver, MD, adult and pediatric allergist and immunologist at Banner Health Clinic, shares some tips to help keep your head clear this season.

1. Keep Windows Closed

As tempting as it may be to open your windows in the morning to let in the fresh, cool air, keep your car and home windows closed and the air conditioning running with a HEPA filter, suggests Dr. Culver. “The pollen peaks early in the morning, so monitor the pollen and mold counts to help you know when you’re less likely to be under siege.”

2. Medicate as Needed

“It’s always better to prevent than to treat,” Dr. Culver says. “If you know every August you start sneezing and your eyes will water, start your over-the-counter or prescribed medication around the same time each year.” Medications include antihistamines and topical nasal steroid sprays. If symptoms aren’t controlled as you would like, Dr. Culver suggests seeing an allergist to assess if you are really allergic and if you are a good candidate for allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).

3. Keep It Outdoors

If you are working or exercising outdoors, keep allergens outside. Dr. Culver suggests setting aside shoes, hats and clothes exclusively for outdoor use and changing as soon as you come indoors or changing in a back entry or garage to reduce the risk of tracking in pollen. Once inside, immediately rinse off in the shower before hopping into bed or going along with your day.

4. Clean House

Keep your house, air filters and vents clean. You may also purchase a dehumidifier. By keeping the air below 50 percent humidity, you may reduce the presence of dust mites.

Don’t let fall allergies keep you from enjoying the great weather. If these tips aren’t helping you find relief, speak with a Banner Health specialist to evaluate symptom and treatment relief.

Allergy and Immunology