When the weather gets cooler and leaves begin to fall, you may notice an increase in runny noses and watery eyes in your household. But since fall and winter are also known for increases in the common cold and the flu, as well as allergen triggers such as ragweed and pine trees, how do you know what’s causing these symptoms? Here’s further information regarding fall allergies, and what you can do about them.

What Are Allergies?

“Allergic reactions happen,” explains Dr. Dolezal, “when your immune system overreacts to a substance it considers harmful.” These substances are called allergens, which, when encountered by the immune system of someone with allergies, cause the production of immunoglobulin E. Immunoglobulin E leads to mast cell activation which forces the release of histamines. Histamines trigger symptoms including:

  • Runny and/or stuffy nose
  • Overabundant mucus
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth
  • Red and/or watery eyes

Severe allergies may also negatively impact your concentration, focus, and mood, and increase your fatigue — making things worse than simply needing more tissues.

Note that allergies do not come hand-in-hand with fever or chills, which may be a sign that something else is going on, but talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing to be certain.

There are several types of allergens, including in food, pet hair, certain medicines, and even fabrics. But allergy symptoms that start in early September and continue into January in Georgia are likely due to:

  • Ragweed
  • Goldenrod
  • Sagebrush
  • Leaf piles
  • Mold spores
  • Other seasonal pollens
  • Dust

What Allergy Treatments Are Available?

There are several non-prescription treatments your doctor may recommend to help with your allergic symptoms:

  • Oral antihistamines – Examples include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
  • Decongestants – These can be administered either orally as with pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol), or in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine).
  • Nasal spray – Cromolyn sodium nasal spray is most effective if taken before your symptoms start, but can ease allergy symptoms.
  • Combination medications – These combine both a decongestant and antihistamine, such as loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).

Some natural remedies may also provide relief, such as

  • Vitamin C – Primarily found in fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, bell peppers, tomatoes and tomato juice.
  • Bromelain – Found at the core of pineapples and in pineapple juice, but also available in supplement form.
  • Quercetin – An antioxidant flavonoid found in many plants including broccoli, kale, grapes, and berries.

Be sure to discuss any herbal supplements with your doctor before you start taking them, as their ingredients might interfere with other medications you’re taking.

How Can I Prevent Allergy Irritation?

Avoiding allergens may feel impossible at times, especially when it’s so pleasant to be outdoors, but there are actions you can take to minimize your exposure.

  • Monitor the daily pollen count, and keep outdoor activities to a minimum during the highest peaks. Keep car and home windows closed, and if you’re running the heat, put it on the recycled air setting.
  • Frequently wash your hands, and wash your hair and body before going to bed.
  • Change or clean your air filters regularly.
  • If you have pets, wipe their paws and fur with a damp cloth before they come inside.

To learn more about how we can help you and your family identify, treat, and navigate fall allergies or any other condition, call us at 762-356-4933 or contact one of our locations directly online.