When we think of allergies, spring allergies usually come to mind.
And while springtime seasonal allergy season may be considered one of the worst seasons for allergy sufferers, fall allergies have been known to give spring allergies a run for their money!
Find out which allergies in September cause the most severe symptoms and how to prevent allergy attacks at their root cause.
Sometimes it feels like fall allergies are starting earlier and lasting longer — and that’s because they are.
Climate change has changed our seasons. Summer starts earlier and both summer and autumn are lasting longer. To add insult to injury, spring allergy season is now longer, too!
When temperatures rise, we experience longer allergy seasons. Plants and trees begin to bloom earlier in the year (think March instead of April), and temperatures aren’t as cold throughout the winter and may lead to heavier allergen counts the following year.
High temperatures are lasting well into September and October, meaning the fall season is elongated, too.
All this simply means that we experience longer allergy seasons as the result of rising temperatures and climate change.
Spring allergies get a little more attention than fall and autumn allergies.
That’s because when plants and trees bloom in the spring, they may cause a cascade of allergy symptoms — simply because so many plants are releasing pollen at once.
The main seasonal allergens in the fall are mold, ragweed and fungus.
Ragweed is the only allergen in that trio that is strictly a seasonal allergy, as mold and fungus are also environmental allergens — meaning they may grow not just seasonally but whenever the conditions are just right.
Ragweed blooms during late summer and fall, meaning September is prime time ragweed allergy season!
Also known as hay fever, ragweed allergies are at their peak in mid-September — though it may cause symptoms as late as November. Since the weather is getting warmer year after year (thanks to climate change), allergy seasons are getting longer, too.
Mold and mildew grow in humid climates.
When the rainy season starts in the fall, that moisture is likely to get trapped in organic material in your yard (such as in between leaves or in compost or grass piles) and grow mold or mildew.
Of course, mold and mildew may both also grow indoors, especially in areas where there isn’t enough air circulation.
Fungus, like mold and mildew, is also more likely to grow in the summer and fall, as it grows in humid or damp conditions.
Fungus spores may become airborne when they are disturbed and separate from the rest of the colony. Fungus grows in damp or humid areas outdoors and indoors and may become more of a health concern in the fall and winter if there’s less air circulation (especially when doors and windows close and fans and air conditioners turn off).
Monitoring symptoms won’t tell you for certain what you’re allergic to. Yet, you may be able to narrow down your symptoms this way.
In addition to fall allergies, you may also suffer from environmental allergies. Common environmental allergens may include animal dander (including rodent, insect, and pet dander) and dust.
Whenever you start noticing symptoms, take note of where they arise (and their severity). You may notice a pattern in your symptoms (such as whenever your cat is nearby or whenever you’re near organic matter, such as compost, outdoors).
Try to avoid environments where allergy symptoms are the worst.
To know for certain which allergens you’re allergic to, you’ll want to get tested. Three types of allergy tests are commonly used, including skin-scratch tests, blood tests and at-home allergy tests.
Skin scratch tests may be performed at a doctor’s or allergen’s office. A medical professional will insert needles (containing small amounts of allergens) underneath the top layer of your skin.
Blood tests may be ordered by your doctor and performed at a testing lab. A lab tech will perform a blood draw and analyze your sample. Results are usually available within a few business days.
Curex’s at-home allergy tests may be ordered by anyone and shipped to your home. Use the instructions to take a sample (a drop of blood) with a lancet. Mail the sample to the lab and get your results (usually) within a few business days.
Allergy symptoms in September may not be as severe as allergy symptoms in the spring or summer.
That’s because there are not as many plants blooming and releasing pollen in the autumn. In the spring, there are a plethora of trees and plants releasing their pollen as they bloom, making it one of the most aggressive seasons for pollen allergies.
In September, ragweed is the main plant releasing pollen and blooming. Yet, if you’re allergic to ragweed, your symptoms may be severe, depending on where you live and the severity of your allergies.
If you have an extreme allergic reaction to other September allergens (such as mold and fungus), you may also include more severe symptoms, too.
The most common allergy symptoms in September may include:
Allergy symptoms in September may be even more severe, depending on certain risk factors. Your location and other underlying medical conditions may both play a role in allergy symptoms.
If you live in an area that sees high levels of pollution (such as New York City or Los Angeles), your symptoms may worsen; if you suffer from other respiratory issues, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis, your allergy symptoms may aggravate these conditions, too.
Residents of areas (such as densely-populated cities) that experience lower air quality and higher levels of pollution may be more susceptible to severe allergy symptoms.
High levels of smog, air pollution, heavy metals and smoke may lead to lower air quality — and a worsening of symptoms in some allergy sufferers.
Before leaving your home each day, you may want to check air quality levels (especially if you live in a city like Los Angeles or San Francisco that suffers from both pollution and high levels of smoke from forest fires.
Higher levels of ozone may also lead to worsening allergy symptoms for some individuals.
Allergies may cause asthma, and asthma may worsen the symptoms of allergies.
Allergy-induced asthma is a condition that is caused by allergies and may lead to more severe respiratory issues, such as bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
While allergies aren’t the cause of all asthma, they may lead to constricted airways, difficulty breathing and even anaphylaxis. Treating allergy symptoms may also help prevent allergy-induced asthma.
Doctors recommend preventing allergies through avoidance and medication.
While these two treatment methods have been proven effective at preventing allergies in September (and other months), they aren’t infallible either. Both allergy avoidance and medication may disrupt your life and prevent you from participating in the activities you love most.
Avoiding allergies is one way to avoid allergy symptoms. Allergy avoidance is simply avoiding contact with known allergens.
Check the pollution and air quality levels before leaving home. If you are able to stay inside for the day, you may want to do so. If you do need to go outside, make sure to remove your pollen-saturated clothes when returning home and take a shower to remove pollen from your hair, clothes and skin as soon as possible.
Invest in HEPA air filters for your fans, air conditioners, vacuum and other appliances.
If you’re a pet owner, try to avoid contact with your pet’s dander (dead skin cells), saliva, urine and feces as much as possible; avoid cleaning out litter boxes or scooping pet feces if you can.
Bathe indoor/outdoor pet regularly to remove any pollen that may affix itself to fur and feet.
It may not always be possible to avoid all allergens.
In these cases, you may want to fall back on allergy medications, such as antihistamines, steroids and salines. These medications have been proven effective in relieving allergy symptoms, though they aren’t without their own issues.
These medications may cause uncomfortable side effects, such as drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues and insomnia.
Why treat the symptoms of allergies when you can target their root cause?
Allergy immunotherapy (such as allergy shots or under-the-tongue immunotherapy) has been proven effective at reducing allergy symptoms by preventing the root cause of allergies.
Small amounts of allergens are introduced to the body (via injection with allergy shots or orally with sublingual immunotherapy) and may teach the immune system to stop overreacting to allergens.
While allergy shots may be administered at a doctor’s office (usually weekly during the build-up phase), under-the-tongue immunotherapy may be administered at home.