Allergies in Autumn are not Such an Oddity
The immune systems of allergy sufferers perceive inhaled pollen or other allergens as foreign particles and produce antibodies, which normally identify and attack bacteria and viruses. Antibodies bind with allergens in the body, which leads to the release of a huge number of histamine into the blood. It is the histamine that is responsible for the symptoms of allergies including wet eyes, nasal congestion and itching.
Despite the fact that all the plants wither in autumn, the air is clean and cool, many allergy sufferers do not feel the long-awaited relief. The causative factors of allergies change, but they are no less ruthless than the flower pollen that fills everything in the spring and summer.
Fall Allergies: Causes
The most important and dangerous allergen in autumn is common ragweed. Despite the fact that this weed with small yellow flowers begins to bloom in August, it grows well in autumn too. About 75% of people who react to pollen of the spring plants also react to ragweed. It is important that with the wind the pollen of ragweed may be distributed to tens of kilometers. And even if it does not grow near your home, it can still cause allergies.
Another culprit of fall allergies is mold fungus because its spores are easily carried by the wind. Mold lives in moist places, both at home and in open spaces. Great refuges for reproduction of the fungus are heaps of damp fallen leaves collected in the fall along roadsides and in yards. In addition, mold can grow well in basements, bathrooms and kitchens.
Another common allergen that is found in almost all houses, is the house dust mites. These microscopic insects, like spiders, are most active in humid and hot summer months. However, in autumn they feel less comfortable. Feces of mites enter the nose, causing sneezing, a running nose and wheezing.
Autumn Allergies in Children
For children the main factor that contributes to the appearance of allergy symptoms, is often the beginning of a new school year. On school premises mold and mites breed very well. Do not forget about the chalk particles, which fill the air in every classroom and often are the cause of the first attack of bronchial asthma in children. Considering all these factors, it is not surprising that researchers have reported acute exacerbation of asthma symptoms among children in September and October.
Another autumn challenge for the children is food allergy. Back to school means a visit to the school canteen where a child faces milk, eggs, nuts, chocolate bars and other allergens that can be quite dangerous for those children who are prone to allergies.
The Symptoms of Autumn Allergies
An allergic reaction to ragweed, pollen, mold and other triggers is manifested through symptoms of allergic rhinitis (pollinosis or hay fever). These include:
People who are allergic to ragweed often experience itching of the oral cavity and larynx. That is food allergy syndrome, which appears after eating bananas, cucumbers, melons or other fruits and vegetables.
Allergens that are airborne can also cause the development of asthma. It is often a life-threatening condition where the narrowing of the airways leads to shortness of breath, cough, difficulty breathing.
Food allergic reactions are urticaria (rash), spastic abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and often cough. Severe reactions, called anaphylactic shock, lead to swelling of the lips, tongue or larynx a person cannot breathe properly. Anaphylaxis is an extremely life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care.
Diagnosis of Autumn Allergies
To determine the cause of a constant running nose and wet eyes is the job for an allergist, who specializes in the treatment and prevention of allergic diseases. First, the doctor will ask you carefully about all the symptoms, and also features of your life, work, food habits, and diseases of other family members. After that, the allergist conducts a skin test or so-called a provocative tests. The essence of this test is to inject different allergens in small amounts. If you are allergic to any substance, the spot will get red and itching. This means that the body produces antibodies against allergens.
Another option to diagnose allergy is a radioelectricity test – a blood test that determines the level of antibodies to a particular allergen.
Treatment of Allergies during Autumn Period
- Nasal sprays with corticosteroids hormones, which reduce inflammation in the nasal cavity;
- Antihistamines block the action of histamine, thereby reducing itching, sneezing and nasal congestion;
- Decongestants (decongestant remedies) cleanse the nasal passages of mucus, which reduces nasal congestion and swelling;
- The combination of medications based on antihistamines and decongestants;
- Eye drops with antihistamines;
- The allergens are injected in a gradually increasing dose, and as a result that the organism acquires resistance to it. “Vaccination against allergy” is able to inhibit the onset of symptoms much longer than the regular medications. Despite the fact that immunotherapy is not suitable for all allergy sufferers, those people who can tolerate it, the symptoms sometimes do not occur for several years.
Many of the drugs can be purchased in a drugstore without a prescription. However, before you do that, discuss the treatment with your doctor. Some antihistamines cause drowsiness, so when taking them you should be cautious, especially if your work requires high concentration. A good substitute is anti-allergic medicines of new generation, which do not cause drowsiness. Carefully read the instructions: some remedies can be taken for only a few days.
How to Cope with Autumn Allergies
The following rules will help relieve the symptoms of allergies in autumn:
- Try to stay indoors during the period of highest activity of plants (that is from 10.00 to 15.00), keep the windows closed;
- For home cleaning use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which removes effectively even the smallest allergen particles from the air;
- Moisturize the air: humidity should be kept at the level of 35-50%;
- When harvesting the leaves at the cottage or in the yard, wear a mask. This will help to avoid breathing mold spores;
- If you have a fireplace, before the first usage clean all the pipes thoroughly. Vents can accumulate a large amount of mold and other allergens during summer time.
To avoid allergies in children:
- Prepare food for lunch for them at home and ask the children not to take food from their classmates;
- Inform the class teacher that your child is allergic. If the attacks occur especially hard, leave at the school medical office a shot with epinephrine (adrenaline);
- Do not allow children to eat sweets on holidays until you make sure that no allergens in them.